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The Remodeled House 







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NEW ll6?M:^^FR0M OLD 

Copyright, 1948, by the McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc. 

All rights reserved. This book, or parts thereof, may not be 
reproduced in any form without permission of the publishers. 

The quality of the materials used in the manufacture of 
this book is governed by continued postivar shortages. 




J. HIS BOOK has been written to provide useful and practical information for 
everyone interested in the remodeling of houses. It is addressed particularly 
to actual and potential homeowners; but landlords, builders, and other per- 
sons who are concerned with remodeling for profit will also find useful facts 
and ideas in it. 

Good remodeling is always an act of creativeness and very often it is also 
an exciting adventure, but these aspects have not been emphasized. Instead, 
we have endeavored to present the principles and the information that owners 
and prospective purchasers of existing houses should have in order to decide 
whether the house in the case is worth remodeling, to plan the remodeling 
that is needed, and to understand the materials used in houses and the me- 
chanical details of remodeling operations. 

The book has two distinct although closely related parts. Readers who are 
interested only in learning when remodeling is justified and how to plan it 
will find most of the information that they need in Chapters 1 through 13. 
The legion of amateur builders, home craftsmen, and Jacks-of-all-trades — 
which in these days includes many recruits who do their own repairing and 
remodeling because skilled workmen cannot be hired — should read also the 
material in Chapters 14 through 29, for it is here that particular attention 
has been paid to the anatomy of houses. Even the homeowner who will hire 
experts to remodel his house should benefit from reading these latter chapters 
if he has time, for they explain many things that are essential to the planning 
as well as to the execution of good and economical remodeling. 

Since this book is primarily for the homeowner, we have striven to make 
it nontechnical. However, it is impossible to write usefully about plumbing, 
for example, without calling by name such technical things as joints and 
traps. Homeowners who are going to do their own work will need to know the 
few technical terms that are used. Others will find it is handy to know them, 
if only to talk intelligently to the skilled persons who must be dealt with in 
getting the remodeling done. 

Because so many materials and methods of construction are found in 
houses, an adequate book on remodeling is necessarily a small encyclopedia 
of building information. Nevertheless, it is an impossibility for one book to 

vi Preface 

contain all of the data that might be needed in all cases of remodeling. For 
this reason, we have listed in the section entitled Useful Books and Pamphlets 
a number of other publications that are helpful. We urge our readers to 
make full use of this section, for knowledge acquired through the medium 
of print is usually much cheaper than knowledge gained by experimentation 
with high-priced building materials. 

The foundation of the book was the authors' own experiences in remodeling 
frame houses in New England and stone houses in Bucks County, Pennsyl- 
vania; but many of the pictures and special data have been graciously fur- 
nished by others. Credit for this material has been given adjacent to the illus- 
trations and at appropriate places in the text. 

R. R. Hawkins 
C. H. Abbe 



Preface v 

1. Remodel? 1 

When Is Remodeling Justified? — The location — The site. Buying for Re- 
modeling. Remodeling Costs. 

2. New Houses from Old — Some Examples 9 

3. The Chief Types of House Construction 37 

Frame Construction — Plank houses — Veneered frame houses. Masonry Con- 
struction — Stone — Brick — Clay tile and concrete blocks — Poured concrete. 
Problems in Remodeling Frame and Masonry Houses. 

4. How to Judge a House for Remodeling 42 

The Roof Frame. The Exterior Walls. Chimneys. The Foundation Walls. 
Sills, Joists, Girders, and Posts. Termites. Plumbing and Heating Systems. 
Other Details. 

5. Halls and Stairs 50 

Halls — Hall dimensions — Hall floors — Hall lighting. Stairs — Stair dimen- 
sions and design — Stair locations — Some technical aspects of stairs. 

6. Living Rooms 61 

Living-room Planning in Remodeling — Living-room dimensions — Living- 
room windows. Fireplaces and Mantels. Bookcases and Other Built-in Fur- 
niture. Lighting and Electrical Outlets. 

7. Dining Rooms 71 

8. Kitchens . ". 75 

Basic Principles of Kitchen Planning — Kitchen location — Kitchen dimen- 
sions — Windows — Doors. Pantries. Kitchen Equipment — Sinks — Ranges — - 
Refrigerators — Food freezers — Cabinets and shelves — Other accessories — 
Fans and ventilation. Kitchen Floors. Walls and Ceilings. Lighting. Elec- 
trical Outlets. A Place for Breakfast. 

9. Bathrooms 92 

How Many Bathrooms? Location of Bathrooms. Design of Bathrooms. 
Bathroom Fixtures and Fittings — Bathtubs — Bathtub fittings — Shower 
baths — Lavatories — Lavatory fittings — Water closets — Miscellaneous acces- 
sories. Bathroom Floors and Walls. Lighting and Electrical Outlets. 


viii New Houses from Old 

10. Bedrooms 109 

Average Bedrooms. Bed-living Rooms. Children's Bedrooms. Dressing 
Rooms. Sleeping Porches. Problems in Remodeling Bedrooms. Attic Bed- 

11. Closets and Storage Space . . 123 

Storage Space in General. Hall Closets. Bedroom Closets. Linen Closets. 
Storage in Bathrooms. Storage in the Kitchen. Storage in the Dining Room. 
Storage in the Living Room. Storage in the Basement. Storage in the 

12. Basements 137 

Space Requirements of the Heating System. Space Requirements of the 
Garage. Space Requirements of the Laundry. Space Requirements of the 
Recreation Room. Special Considerations in Modernizing Basements — 
Ventilation — Heating — Lighting and electrical outlets. 

13. How to Do Remodeling 144 

Should You Employ an Architect? Your Object in Remodeling. Getting 
Information on Remodeling. Plans and Sketches — Architectural photo- 
graphs — Plan reading. Contracts and Related Legal Matters. Financing 

14. Masonry Work 164 

Concrete— Portland cement — Sand — Water — Other ingredients — Cement and 
mortar formulas — Estimating quantities — Proportioning the water — Mixing 
concrete — Forms for concrete — Placing of concrete — Damp-curing of con- 
crete — Finishing concrete — Watertight concrete. Concrete Block and Tile. 
Brick. Stone. Repairs to Existing Masonry. 

15. Foundations 184 

Structural Repairs to Old Foundations. Dampproofing and Waterproofing. 
Constructing New Foundations under Existing Houses — Footings — Building 
a concrete-block foundation wall. Foundation Details. Foundation Widths. 
Footings under Posts. Pier Foundations. Termite Protection. 

16. Chimneys and Fireplaces 199 

Chimney Elements — Chimney materials — Flues — Chimney dimensions — 
Chimney accessories — Smoke tests. Vents. Repairing and Modernizing Old 
Chimneys — Mortar joints — Obstructions — Creosote — Flues. Fireplaces. Re- 
pairing and Modernizing Fireplaces — The flue — The smoke shelf — The 
damper — The lintel — Smoky fireplaces. Fireplace Units. 

17. House Framing 212 

Types of Frames. Lumber Sizes. Sills. Girders. Joists. Studs. Partitions. 
Stairs. Framing around Openings — Openings for windows and doors — 
Openings for chimneys and fireplaces — The cutting of framing members. 
Reinforcement of Floors under Bathrooms. Roof Framing — Roof-frame re- • 

pairs — Rafter layout — Dormers and other openings in the roof — Changes in 
roof shape and pitch. Porch Roofs. Nailing. Fire Stopping. Framing in 
Masonry Houses. 

Contents ^ ix 

18. Roofs 243 

Sheathing. Flashings — Valleys — Chimneys — Vents — Ridges and hips — In- 
tersections. Roof-covering Materials — Wood shingles — Asphalt shingles — ■ 
Slate shingles — Asbestos-cement shingles — Copper roofing — Terneplate — 
Other metals — Built-up roofs — Canvas roofs. Draining the Roof: Gutters, 
Downspouts, and Dry Wells. Repairing Roof Leaks. "Weeping" Roofs. 
Working on Roofs. 

19. Exterior Walls 270 

Sheathing — Lumber sheathing — Plywood sheathing — Other types of sheath- 
ing board — Application of sheathing board. Sheathing Paper. Siding — 
Board siding — Wood-shingle siding — Plywood siding — Asbestos-cement 
shingles and siding. Stucco. Stone and Brick Veneer. Re-siding and Over- 
walling — Board siding — Wood shingles — Asbestos-cement shingles and sid- 
ing — Plywood siding — Stone and masonry veneer. Repair of Siding — Board 
siding — Shingle siding — Masonry veneer. Repair of Solid Masonry Walls. 
Repair of Stucco. Cornices, Belt Courses, and Water Tables. 

20. Windows and Doors . 291 

Windows — Types of windows — Window terms and parts. Glass and Glaz- 
ing. Double Glazing and Storm Windows. Weather Stripping. Screens. 
Modernization of Existing Windows — Weightless windows — Installation of 
screens and storm sashes on old windows — Calking of windows. Doors — 
Types of doors — Door details. Modernizing Old Doors. Hardware — Window 
hardware — Door hardware — Locks and latches — Cabinet hardware — Hard- 
ware finishes. 

21. Interior Walls and Trim 316 

Dry-wall Construction — Wallboards — Application of wallboard. Wall Finish 
with Natural Lumber (Paneling). Linoleum Wall Covering. Glass and Tile 
on Walls. Bathroom and Kitchen Walls. Basement Walls. Suspended Ceil- 
ings. Repairing Old Plaster. Interior Trim. Planning Wall Remodeling. 

22. Floors 331 

Subflooring. Finish Flooring — Hardwoods — Softwoods. Laying the Finish 
Floor. Repair and Modernization of Wood Floors. Linoleum Flooring. Cork 
Tile. Asphalt Tile. Ceramic-tile Walls and Floors — Walls — Floors — Setting 
ceramic tile in adhesive — Ceramic-tile floors on porches and terraces. Porch 
Floors of Wood. Basement Floors. 

23. Painting and Papering 355 

Paint Terms. Home-mixed or Ready-mixed Paints? — Mixing of paints — 
Coloring of paints — How much paint? Application of Paints — Care of 
brushes — Spray guns. Removal of Paint — Chemical removers — Chemical 
removers. Safety in Painting. Exterior Wood — Blistering and peeling — 
Cracking and scaling — Stains — Checking, alligatoring, and wrinkling — 
Erosion and chalking off — Defects in the wood itself — How many coats? — 
Paint formulas — Applying the paint — Painting wood shingles. Masonry 
Walls — Whitewash — Cement-water paints — Oil paints — Resin emulsion 
paints. Painting of Stucco. Painting of Metal. Painting of Plaster. Plywood 
Walls. Fiber Wallboards. Wood Trim — Clear or natural finishes — Stained 
finishes — Painted surfaces. Floors — Finishes for softwood floors — Finishes 

X New Houses from Old 

for hardwood floors — Special problems in refinishing old floors — Concrete 
floors. Wallpaper — Preparing the surface — Estimating paper — Equipment 
for hanging paper — Paste — Hanging the paper. 

24. Heating 393 

Types of Heating Systems — Gravity warm air — Forced warm air — One-pipe 
steam system — Two-pipe steam system — Gravity hot water — Forced hot 
water. Registers, Radiators, and Convectors — Registers — Convectors — Radi- 
ant heating. Fueling Systems — Stokers — Oil burners — Gas. Heating-system 
Controls. Heating Calculations — Terminology — Making the heat-loss calcu- 
lation — Radiator, convector, and register sizes — Capacities of boilers and 
furnaces — Capacities of fueling systems. Installation of Heating Systems. 
Repair and Modernization of Existing Systems — Warm-air systems — Steam 
systems — Hot-water systems — Combination, or mixed, systems. Ventila- 
tion — Humidity — Air conditioning. 

25. Insulation 426 

Heat Transmission. Effectiveness of Insulating Methods. Insulating Materi- 
als. Vapor Barriers. Installation of Insulation — Insulation of the roof — ■ 
Insulation of the attic — Insulation of walls — Insulation of floors. Sound 

26. Plumbing 436 

Water-supply Piping. Drainage-system Piping — Traps — Vents. Installation 
of Plumbing. Concealment of Plumbing Pipes. Modernization of Old 
Plumbing. Cross Connections. Hot-water Supply. 

27. Water Supply 458 

Quantity and Quality — Tests for quantity — Tests for quality. Springs. 
Wells — Dug wells — Digging new wells — Driven wells — Drilled wells — 
Cisterns. Water Pressure and Flow. Piping to Springs. Pumps and Hy- 
draulic Rams — Pumps — Hydraulic rams. 

28. Sewage Disposal 479 

Septic-tank Disposal Systems — Septic tanks — The house sewer — The dis- 
posal field — The house drain — The outlet sewer — The sludge drain — Care 
of a septic-tank sewage-disposal system. Cesspools. 

29. Wiring and Lighting 490 

Design of Wiring Systems — Volts, amperes, and watts — Types of circuits — 
Wiring symbols. Wiring materials — Protection of the wires — Fittings — 
Switches — Receptacles — Control-center equipment. Installation of Wiring — 
Structural problems — Basic operations in wiring. Modernization of Existing 
Systems. Doorbell Wiring. Telephone Wiring. Lighting and Lighting Fix- 

Useful Books and Pamphlets 521 

Addresses of Organizations and Publishers ...... 531 

Appendix ° . . 535 

Index 545 






HE ULTIMATE REASON for remodeling a house is to enhance its value as a 
place to live. This statement overlooks the fact that occasionally houses are 
remodeled for use as museums, schools, stores, and other types of structures 
not intended as dwellings; but this book does not deal with these rare cases 
of special remodeling. Instead, its authors have assumed that you as one of 
their readers are concerned with remodeling a house so that it will be a 
better dwelling place for yourself or for someone to whom you hope to 
rent or to sell it. 

Remodeled farmhouses are commonplace sights throughout America. 
Some of this remodeling has been done by farmers to improve their own 
dwellings, but a large proportion of it has been done by city residents who 
have created attractive summer or retirement homes by buying old farm- 
houses and applying to them the near-magic touch of remodeling. Remodeled 
village and city homes far outnumber remodeled farmhouses, but they are 
less conspicuous because a remodeled house in an urban community, if the 
remodeling was well planned and executed, fits in with its neighbors and 
has the appearance of a house of recent construction. Remodeling as a means 
of improving houses for better living is a technique practically as old as 
housebuilding itself. 

It is the fate of houses, as of most things built by man, to outgrow rapidly 
their maximum usefulness. A homeownfer who goes through the mixed pleas- 
ure and pain of planning and building a new house usually finds that its 
suitability and attractiveness decline markedly in the time of one generation, 
if not within a few years. Often it is not the structure that deteriorates; 
rather the architecture and interior arrangements become outmoded and old- 
fashioned as housing standards change. Obsolescence is the word for this 
process, and few houses escape it. One often hears references to the well- 
built old houses. There is no doubt that some old houses, like some modern 
houses, were well built structurally. Nevertheless, they, too, were extensively 
altered and remodeled, sometimes by the original builder and, if not by 
him, then by his descendants of the next generation. 


2 New Houses from Old 

A good example of this obsolescence is furnished by the massive central 
chimney with its large fireplaces that was a feature of so many early Amer- 
ican homes. At the time that these chimneys were constructed, householders 
did not expect their homes to be comfortable throughout the year. In the 
wintertime blistering heat on the front side of their persons as they faced 
the roaring fire was a comfort — almost a luxury. The drafts at their backs 
were just as chilly as drafts are today, but they were considered part of 
man's inescapable lot. Use of the big fireplace as a heating device was pos- 
sible only because supplies of cheap wood were abundant. As these began 
to dwindle, the wastefulness and inefficiency of the large fireplaces were 
forcefully impressed on householders; consequently iron stoves were adopted 
for cooking and heating, and the fireplaces were bricked up and covered 
over. Today, in restoring colonial houses, we usually remove the bricking 
and return the fireplaces to their original state, but seldom do we depend 
on them for our cooking and heating because we have more convenient and 
efficient devices for these purposes. 

A later example of obsolescence is the bulky hardwood trim so commonly 
used in American homes of a generation ago. Undoubtedly it was durable 
finishing material and it suited the taste of its day, but few people con- 
sider it attractive now. The modern bathroom still serves the same funda- 
mental purposes as bathrooms installed forty years ago; yet a forty-year-old 
bathroom, even if it is still in good working order, greatly detracts from 
the value and livability of a house. 

The point is that it is not difficult to build a house so that it will stand 
for centuries with adequate maintenance, but it is impossible to predict the 
tastes and needs of future generations or even the future tastes and needs 
of the builder of a house. The Chas. Addams drawings that appear as our 
frontispiece may be taken as a sly comment on the foibles of the human 
animal, but they also serve to illustrate a natural and quite commendable 
striving for dwellings that express the standards of their time. 

Standards of taste are imposed by the community. The needs of the family 
as to space and convenience are individual matters more or less peculiar 
to each family. Altering old houses so that they will be satisfactory from 
both viewpoints is the proper object in remodeling. In most cases remodel- 
ing is combined with repairing, but this is a coincidence, since any house 
can be repaired without being remodeled. 

From your viewpoint as the person who pays the bills, remodeling may 
have many advantages. In many cases it is possible to get an up-to-date and 
thoroughly satisfactory place to live for a smaller outlay of money by re- 
modeling an old house than by building a new one. In most communities 
the best building sites have long been preempted and have houses standing 

Remodel? 3 

on them. Remodeling offers an opportunity to enjoy the advantages of a 
good and fully developed site. If you had to build a new house with a limited 
amount of money, you would probably have to make many compromises 
with what your family really needs in the way of spacious and convenient 
living quarters; but by the intelligent remodeling of an old house, you may 
be able to obtain adequate space and conveniences for the same amount of 
money or even less. Remodeling also confers benefits on society. Old houses 
that are not remodeled are seldom removed. Instead, they remain and be- 
come eyesores. Remodeling would bring them up to date and would not 
only save them but also save the neighborhood. Even the remodeling of a 
single house in a neighborhood that is running down only because the 
houses are aged lifts the tone of the neighborhood and usually leads to the 
remodeling of other houses. Remodeling also has saved and still will save 
many fine old houses that are interesting because of their age. Benefiting 
the community by remodeling a house will not put any cash immediately 
into your pocket, but you may just as well take credit for the benefit anyway. 

When Is Remodeling Justified? 

If you are considering the remodeling of a house that you already own 
•or the purchase of a house to remodel, undoubtedly one of the main ques- 
tions to which you must find an accurate answer is: Is the house worth 
remodeling? If the house in question is one that you rent to others or one 
that you intend to offer for sale, you will want a dollars-and-cents answer, 
and it should be relatively easy to obtain it from bankers, contractors, and 
real-estate men in the community. The ultimate test is, of course, whether 
the increased price that you can get after the remodeling will be greater 
than the price you can get for the house in its present state, plus the cost 
of remodeling, plus whatever you want for your initiative and the trouble 
to which you are put in undertaking the remodeling operation. If you rent 
the house, the test is whether the increase in the rent after the remodeling 
will amortize the cost of remodeling at a sufficiently rapid rate to give you 
your money back within a reasonable time. Remodeling to increase the 
rental or sales value of a house is often very good business. Banks, insurance 
companies, and other agencies that lend money on houses resorted to re- 
modeling on an extensive scale during the depression of the 1930's to make 
foreclosed houses rentable and salable. 

However, if you are interested in remodeling a house for yourself and 
your family to live in, your approach to the question of whether the house 
is worth remodeling will be somewhat different, although you should still 
keep your business head and make a sound decision based on good reason- 

4 New Houses from Old 

ing. The difference is that all of the elements of a satisfactory dwelling 
cannot be valued in terms of dollars; therefore, it may be prudent for 
you to spend even more on the purchase and remodeling of an old house 
located where you want to live than on a new house of equal size and con- 
venience elsewhere. 

The location. The first major element that should be considered in decid- 
ing whether a house is worth remodeling is its location. If you are already 
living in the house that you are planning to remodel, you know whether 
the neighborhood is satisfactory to you. In fact, a neighborhood that you 
know well and like may be the primary factor in your problem of deciding 
whether to remodel. The importance of the neighborhood is no less in pur- 
chasing a house to remodel than it is in buying a new house. If you were 
considering the purchase of a new house in a newly opened real-estate de- 
velopment, you would undoubtedly ask yourself such questions as these 
about its location. Will transportation facilities be adequate to your needs? 
Will there be convenient stores? Will the proposed new school be realized, 
or will your children be crowded into an old school located at some dis- 
tance? Will sidewalks and pavements be built? Will there be good fire and 
police protection? Will the neighborhood be occupied by people who will 
make congenial friends and neighbors? Although answers to some of these 
questions would have to be in the nature of guesses for a new development, 
all of them can be answered with certainty for an old house located in an 
established neighborhood. 

The site. The next thing to consider after the location is the land that goes 
with the house. If it is a city or suburban home, ask yourself whether the 
lot is large enough for your needs. Ideas about the spaciousness of grounds 
around a house vary from one locality to another, and family requirements 
for land vary according to the make-up of the family. Generally speaking, 
families with young children require lots that are large enough to provide 
play space for the youngsters. Gardening is a hobby that requires space, 
also. If members of your family are addicted to it, you will want grounds 
large enough to allow them to enjoy themselves. In communities where taxes 
on land are relatively high, some homeowners prefer small lots because of 
the lower taxes. In some good neighborhoods, zoning restrictions forbid the 
construction of new houses on small lots, but old houses built on such lots 
before the ordinance was put into effect can usually be remodeled into 
modern homes without the purchase of additional land, thus making it pos- 
sible for their owners to enjoy the benefits of a good neighborhood without 
taking on the higher land tax imposed on new houses. 

The trees, shrubs, and other plantings about the house are features of con- 
siderable importance to most persons. Streets on which the houses have been 

Remodel? 5 

built sufficiently long for the trees and the plantings around the houses to 
reach a stage of graceful maturity are considerably more attractive than 
streets in new real-estate developments where the trees are still mere saplings 
and the landscape has a raw appearance. Dealers in real estate recognize 
the value of mature trees. Lots with trees on them located where they will 
not interfere with buildings sell more readily than bare lots. Residences with 
a mature tree or two on the lawn are more salable than similar properties 
without trees. Shrubs, young trees, planting, and landscaping all cost con- 
siderable money. The average homeowner cannot afford the expense of pur- 
chasing and planting mature trees; but if his property lacks trees, he must 
buy young ones and wait years for them to grow. Established trees and 
shrubs have considerable value, and you may well count it in when you 
are appraising a house and land from the viewpoint of remodeling. 

The land that goes with the house is even more important in the country 
if the remodeled dwelling is to be the center of a farm. In such cases, it is 
important to have good farming land that will suit the type of farming to 
be pursued. Even small subsistence farms require from 1 to 5 acres of good 
land on which vegetables and fruit can be grown without an excessive ex- 
penditure of labor and money. Therefore, in buying a farm the land may 
be such an important factor in your selection that you will buy a property 
that has good land but a house that is not suited to economical remodeling. 
However, unless you are buying a large farm for rather extensive farming 
operations, it usually pays to continue your search until you find good land 
and a sound house combined in one property. In the country, water supply 
is another element of almost equal importance with the land. 

Many city people who buy farmhouses for remodeling are interested 
mainly in retirement homes or summer homes. If this is your case, the land 
factor may work to your advantage, since many farmhouses have been built 
on land that will no longer provide a farm family with a livelihood. The 
farm may have been abandoned because the land is poor or because there 
is not enough of it, but the house may still be worth remodeling. Many 
such farms have been bought for about what it would cost to erect the frame- 
*work of the house alone; and many are still for sale at prices that spell 
bargain to families interested in buying comfortable shelter. 

Buying for Remodeling 

A check list of what you want in the way of neighborhood and community 
advantages, land, and water supply is a very useful way of reminding your- 
self to investigate all of the details as you are shown various places being 
offered for sale. Do not try to make up this list in five minutes or you will 

6 New Houses from Old 

forget a number of things that are important to you and to your family. 
Instead, put down all of the things that you can think of at first, then keep 
the list around for a few days and add to it as new ideas occur to you. 
When you think it is complete, put it into some convenient form, say a 
pocket notebook, that you can carry with you. As you look at houses or 
farms that seem to be fairly close to what you want, haul out the check list 
and enter the facts about each property in it. Later, when you are out of 
reach of the real-estate agent's persuasive talk, you will have a record of 
the features of the place that are important to you and, after you have 
looked at a number of properties, an impartial starting point for making 
comparisons among them. 

One further word of warning about your record: take care to check im- 
portant matters — for example, taxes — at the official source. Also, if you 
must reach the city by train, get a timetable of the railroad that will serve 
you. One of the authors once looked at a farm in New England that was 
advertised as being four hours from New York. It turned out to be just that 
many hours away if one flagged the through express at 3:02 in the morning; 
the daytime trains took two hours longer to make the trip. 

The structure of the house, its present state of repair or disrepair, and 
its adaptability to the remodeling plans you have for it are also very im- 
portant. How to judge a house from the viewpoint of its suitability for 
remodeling is discussed in Chapter 4. > / 

Remodeling Costs 

The cost of remodeling depends on many factors — the price and availa- 
bility of materials, prevailing wage rates in the building trades, the nature 
of the remodeling operation, the requirements of building codes, and a num- 
ber of other elements that vary so widely from one locality to another, from 
one job to another, and from one period in the economic cycle to another 
that precise figures cannot be given in a book of this nature. However, some 
general rules on the costs of remodeling can be indicated. Materials and 
equipment cost no more when purchased for use in remodeling than they' 
do for use in the building of a new house; neither do they cost any less. 
Labor rates are the same whether the labor is expended in remodeling or on 
new construction. The removal of old construction is an added expense in 
remodeling; but in many localities this operation can be performed by un- 
skilled labor, and it is, in most cases, a relatively inexpensive operation even 
when it is done by skilled labor. In some instances the value of the salvaged 
material covers the expense of this part of the work. The installation of 
mechanical equipment sometimes costs more for labor than the equivalent 

Remodel? 7 

operation in new construction because the presence of old construction makes 
the operation more time consuming. An example is the installation of a bath- 
room under conditions that require special efforts to keep to a minimum 
the cutting of floors and walls. On the other hand, any part of the original 
structure that can be retained in the remodeled house will represent con- 
struction money saved. In prudent and well-planned remodeling a substan- 
tial part of the original structure is, of course, retained. Architect's fees in 
remodeling are usually higher than for new houses because the architect 
must do more work. He not only must concern himself with your ideas and 
needs for the remodeled house but must also make a thorough study of the 
old house to find out the most economical means of realizing them for you. 

Undoubtedly as soon as word gets about that you are planning to re- 
model, friends and other interested persons will give you much inexpert 
advice against it. You will be told that it is cheaper to build a new house. 
The truth about this matter is that if you own or buy a house that is suitable 
for remodeling in the way that you wish to remodel it, it is cheaper to re- 
model than to build new, provided that your investment in the original 
house is not greater than the house and its site are worth. You can, of course, 
get gypped in remodeling just as you can get gypped in buying a new house 
or in transacting any other business if you go about it without full knowledge 
of what you are doing. But if you understand how houses are remodeled and 
exercise the same prudence in planning and carrying out your remodeling 
as you would in buying land and having a new house built, you will not 
get cheated, and your remodeled house will not cost an excessive amount 
compared to new construction. We have already referred to the fact that 
houses are often remodeled by banks and other business institutions as sound 
business procedure. Architects, who are always in a position to compare 
the relative costs of new building and remodeling, often remodel old houses 
for their own use. 

Remodeling operations run the scale from relatively simple jobs, such as 
the modernizing of a poorly arranged kitchen, to very extensive jobs in 
which the house is practically stripped to its frame and made essentially 
new inside and out. Remodeling varies also according to the type of house 
that is being remodeled. There is the middle-aged house which is struc- 
turally sound but which is adorned outside with useless towers, dangling 
porches, and other ugly excrescences and which is old-fashioned and incon- 
veniently arranged inside. In thorough remodeling such a house may be 
pruned ruthlessly. But different treatment is given to the interesting old 
house that has antique features. In the latter case considerable time and 
effort are spent on restoring and preserving the original parts of the house. 
For example, more money may be spent, and spent justifiably, in scraping, 

8 New Houses from Old 

repairing, and refinishing the original doors, mantels, and wainscoting in 
such a house than Avould be expended on their modern equivalents. Both the 
extent and the purpose of the remodeling operation will have effects on its 
cost, but this is true also in new construction. No one expects to build a 
large and finely constructed new house for the same outlay as for a simple 
bungalow built of cheap materials. 

Specific procedures and steps in the planning and execution of remodel- 
ing will be outlined in Chapter 13, but one special advantage of remodeling 
that can be used to keep down costs will be pointed out here. This is the 
possibility of remodeling a house not in one comprehensive operation but 
pieceineal. If your house is in livable condition, you may wish to remodel it 
part by part as your bank account can afford the expenditure or as work- 
men and materials become available at prices that you can afford to pay. 
Financing charges can be saved if the work is done at a rate that fits your 
ability to pay for it out of your pocket; substantial savings on other costs 
can be made if you take advantage of slack seasons or other conditions in 
the building industry that are in your favor. 

Piecemeal remodeling is also an excellent technique to apply in times 
of housing shortages. If you can buy an old-fashioned house in a satisfactory 
location, be it ever so ugly, it will still be a roof over your head. Once in 
possession, you will be in the best possible position to work out a plan for 
remodeling and to carry out this plan bit by bit as you can get small lots 
of material and equipment. Eventually, even in difficult times, the entire 
job will be done, and you will have a modern, convenient, and attractive 
house instead of only a hope. 



New Houses from Old — Some Examples 

IM OTHING HELPS MORE in the early stages of planning the remodeling of a 
house than the study of successful examples of remodeling. The case histories 
illustrated and discussed briefly in this chapter have been selected for their 
variety as well as for their excellence. Some show inexpensive houses, others 
rather expensive ones. In some instances the structural changes made were 
slight; in others they were extensive. Every one of the houses was an indi- 
vidual problem — as your house, also, will be — but in each case good results 
were obtained first by good planning and then by good execution of the 

Probably not one of these houses will look like your house or the house 
that you are thinking of buying. Nevertheless, it is highly probable that most 
of them will embody something either that is directly applicable to your 
house or that will plant an idea that you can use. For example, you may 
not intend to remodel a barn; but you can get some ideas for room lay- 
outs from the excellent plans in Fig. 2.17. If your house is encumbered 
with an ugly porch, note the different solutions for porch problems that are 
illustrated in Figs. 2.3, 2.14, and 2.21. If your problem is location of the 
bathrooms in an old stone house built without thought of spaces in the 
walls for pipes, note where the baths were placed in Figs. 2.28 and 2.29. 

Figs. 2.1 to 2.5. These illustrations show a house in Nashville, Tennessee, 
that was remodeled by Bolton McBryde, architect, for his own use. Accord- 
ing to the description that was published in the Architectural Record of 
May, 1943, this transformation of a nondescript bungalow into a very charm- 
ing residence cost $3,500, of which sum a good share was spent for a new 
heating system, a summer ventilating system, a fireplace and new chimney, 
new kitchen equipment, a concrete floor in the basement, and a new roof. 
Neither the interior nor the exterior of the house was changed very much 
structurally. Notice that the great improvement in the appearance of the 
front view of the house is chiefly the result of the removal of the porch and 
the dormer and the addition of an attractive entrance in place of the orig- 
inal unsightly front porch. 



New Houses from Old 

Fig. 2.1. — Front view, before. 

Fig. 2.2. — Rear view, before. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 


Fig. 2.3. — Front view, after. 

Fig. 2.4. — Rear view, after. 


New Houses from Old 



Fig. 2.5. 

(Figs. 2.1 to 2.5, courtesy Bolton McBryde, architect, and The Architectural Record.) 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 


Figs. 2.6 to 2.10. These figures illustrate a remodeled town house, the 
David C. Prince house in Schenectady, New York. The oldest part of this 
house was built in the early nineteenth century, and it had been added to 
several times. The additions, each of which had been attached to the rear 
end of the building, had cut off the view across the gardens and had made 
some of the rooms too dark for use. In the remodeling, the service elements — 
kitchen, garage, and service entrance — were relocated on the street side of 
the property; this new addition also shelters the garden from street noises. 
Some of the old additions were removed to open up the west elevation to 
take full advantage of the view. The bay window on what had been the 
dining room was removed, and large windows were placed in all rooms on 
the garden facade. The street fagade of the existing building was not altered, 
and no attempt was made to produce a similarity in style between it and 
the new addition. The difference in styles emphasizes the period of the orig- 
inal house. 

Fig. 2.6. 


New Houses from Old 


Fig. 2.7. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 



Fig. 2.8. 


New Houses from Old 




Fig. 2.9. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 





Fig. 2.10. 

{Figs. 2.6 to 2.10, C. H. Abbe, architect, and Giles I'an der Bogert, associate.) 

The original structure is typical of town houses in the older areas of cities 
in the eastern United States. As in many such houses, the chief problem 
was to let more light into rooms that were too dark to be pleasant living 
quarters. The wider-than-average lot suggested the solution and made it 
possible to carry out the desired remodeling without reducing the living 
areas of the house. The loss of the second-floor screened porch and the 
roof deck is more than compensated by the gain of the garden and the 
pleasant outdoor terrace adjacent to the kitchen and dining room. The 
garage is even more convenient in its new location, and the large portion of 
the lot that was formerly given up to the driveway was added to the lawn 
and garden. The new location of the kitchen keeps the noise of deliveries 
away from the bedrooms and living room. 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 2.11.— Before. 

Figs. 2.11 to 2.12. At first glance the old farmhouse shown in Fig. 2.11 
might be passed up as not being good material for remodeling. However, 
the house was successfully remodeled, as Fig. 2.12 shows. The remodeling 
was sponsored by the New Jersey Agricultural College, and one of the pur- 
poses of the program was to illustrate how dilapidated farmhouses can be 
remodeled without the expenditure of a great amount of money. The plans 
were worked out by W. C. Kreauger, extension engineer of the college, and 
J. F. Shaffhausen, agricultural engineer with the Johns-Manville Sales Cor- 
poration. The actual reconstruction was done by hiring carpenters on a 
daily basis, and the materials selected for the job were such as might be 
used by farmers in the area. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 


Fig. 2.12.— After. 
{Figs. 2.11 and 2A2, courtesy Johns-Manville Sales Corporation.) 

The major changes in the exterior elevation are apparent from the photo- 
graphs. The two doors in the front of the house were converted to windows, 
and the old center window was changed to become the central doorway. 
One chimney was eliminated. After remodeling, the first floor contained a 
small central hallway with stairs leading to the second floor, a living room 
with fireplace on the right side of the hall, and on the left side of the hall 
a small farm office, a dining room, and a kitchen. On the second floor the 
new arrangement provided a central hallway, four bedrooms, and a bath. 
Asbestos shingles were used both as roofing and as siding material. 


New Houses from Old 

Fin. 2.13. -Before. 

Fig. 2.14.— After. 

(Figs. 2.13 and 2.14, courtesy Curtis Contpaiiics, luc, juauufacturcrs of Curtis U'oodzvork.) 

Figs. 2.13 to 2.14. A house could hardly be less distinguished than the 
inexpensive little bungalow shown in Fig. 2.13. Fig. 2.14 illustrates how by 
a good use of imagination and a slight amount of remodeling such a house 
can be turned into a dwelling with considerable charm. 

New Houses from Old — -Some Examples 


Figs. 2.15 to 2.17. The remodeling of a barn into a satisfactory house is 
always a major building operation, but it can be done successfully, as these 
figures show. A barn has the disadvantage of containing little that is useful 
except the frame. However, this is often enough if the frame is in good con- 
dition and if the location of the barn is suitable for a house. Barn frames 

{Richard Averill Smith.) 
Fig. 2.16.~After. 

{Figs. 2.15 to 2.17, reprinted from Better Homes & Gardens.) 


/ V 
New Houses from Old 

are originally built to sustain loads that are heavier than those that will be 
placed on them if they are converted to houses. The floors are generally 
unencumbered with load-bearing partitions, hence rooms can be laid out 
with little restriction on the planning. 

•^P" ■ 











Fig. 2.17. 
(Figs. 2.15 to 2.17, reprinted from Better Homes & Gardens.) 

Figs. 2.18 to 2.19. These pictures show the remodeling of a dilapidated 
and unoccupied house at Port Angeles, Washington. The remodeling was 
supervised by Philip E. Keene, architect. Originally a single-family house, 
the building was converted to two family units. On the first floor the original 
front and back parlors became living room and study-bedroom. The old 
dining room was converted to a bedroom and bath, and the old kitchen was 
simply modernized. The second floor had contained three bedrooms and a 
bath, and it was replanned to contain a kitchen and dinette, living room, 
bedroom, and bath. The exterior of the house was re-sided with fir plywood 
panels that were scored to have some resemblance to board siding. The 
dormers were added in the reconstruction. 


New Houses from Old — Some Examples] 23 

Fig. 2.19.— After. 
(,Figs. 2.18 and 2.19, courtesy Dotiglas Fir Plywood Association.) 


New Houses from Old 

{Reprinted from Better Homes & Gardens.) 
Fig. 2.20.— Before. 

Figs. 2.20 to 2.225. This example of the remodeling of a poor original 
plan into a very convenient two-bedroom house is outstanding for the ex- 
cellent plan changes that the architect achieved and for the incorporation 
into the remodeled house of the space formerly occupied by a narrow and 
practically useless front porch. Eliminating the unnecessary rear stairway 
made it possible to have a kitchen of generous size on the first floor and to 
construct a well-proportioned bedroom on the second floor above the kitchen. 
The relocation of the bath and the provision of a dressing room are also 
great improvements. Relocating the main stair to the second floor and adding 
a new stairway from the service entrance to the cellar opened up the living 
area of the house and provided space for a first-floor lavatory under the 
main stair. In addition to the improvements in layout, the street facade is 
undeniably more attractive. An alteration of this type increases the value 
of a house and improves the neighborhood at the same time that it provides 
improved living comforts for the owners. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 


Fig. 2.21. 

(Reprinted from Better Homes & Gardens.) 

Many lessons in good remodeling can be learned from a careful study 
of the floor plans on pp. 26 and 27. The first floor plan is carefully thought 
out. Both the living room and dining room are well proportioned and ad- 
mirably placed in relation to the outdoor terrace. The kitchen shows good 
arrangement. On the second floor, the arrangement of the bath and dressing 
room between the two bedrooms is a very convenient one whether the bed- 
rooms are occupied by adults or by parents and young children. The bath- 
room itself was ingeniously planned to provide a recess for the tub, closet 
space in the adjoining bedroom, and a compartment for the water closet. 


New Houses from Old 
















Fic. 2.22^. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 




Fig. 2.225. 

CFigs. 2.20 to 2.22B, reprinted from Better Homes & Gardens.) 


New Houses from Old 

Figs. 2.23 to 2.29. The C. H. Abbe house, Newtown, Pennsylvania. In this 
remodeling, most of the changes on the exterior of the house were in the 
nature of repairs rather than reconstruction. The only important architec- 
tural change from the original is the raised roof over the vault and the 
connection of this building to the main house by means of a covered terrace. 
The floor level in the kitchen lean-to, which is typical of the old houses in 
this region, was an inconvenient five steps lower than the dining room. The 
roof of the lean-to had to be raised in order to raise the level of the floor 
and thus eliminate the steps between the kitchen and the dining room. For- 
tunately, there was enoughs' floor space so that steps up to the kitchen from 
the kitchen entrance door could be placed on the inside. Thus it was not 
necessary to change this door or the access from the kitchen entry to the 
cellar. Changing the location of the door from the end of the hall off the 
living room (Figs. 2.24 and 2.27) to the side, so that it gave access to the ter- 
race, constituted another of the alterations to the old stone walls. All of the 
new stone required in the alterations of the walls was taken from the bed 
of a creek that runs through the property. 

Fig. 2.23.— After. 

{Figs. 2.23 to 2.29, C. H. Abbe, architect.) 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 



Fig. 2.24. 

As in remodeling many old farmhouses, particularly houses built of stone, 
the principal problems were the installation of mechanical facilities that 
were not enjoyed by our ancestors — electricity, heating, plumbing, and the 
water system. The plan of the old house provided all the area needed for 
the required rooms and baths, and no major rearrangement of the interior 
was necessary aside from the removal of an unwanted stair. It was pos- 
sible to conceal all of the plumbing and heating risers in closets or in 
furred-out walls that did not take needed space from the rooms. The hori- 
zontal runs of piping under the second-floor baths were concealed by 
furring down a portion of the ceiling in the dining room. 


New Houses from Old 



I — ^ 1-=-^ 



={[ HALL 


1,=^ K=^ 


1^^ ., i"~^ 1^^ 





U^ u^ 


Fig. 2.25. 


Fig. 2.26. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 



Fig. 2.27. 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 2.28. 


Fig. 2.29. 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 


Figs. 2.30 to 2.33. The Thornton Lewis house, New Hope, Pennsylvania. 
The magnitude of this alteration practically takes it out of the class of 
work ordinarily spoken of as remodeling. While the main part of the 
original stone house was retained, completely new flooring and plastering 
were necessary, and the extent of the additions makes it difficult to visu- 
alize the simple farmhouse in the completed building. Nevertheless, the 
spirit of the old house has been retained, and the finished house fits ad- 
mirably into the surroundings. This example illustrates a type of remodel- 
ing quite frequently undertaken when the site of a house rather than the house 





®— »- 

Fig. 2.30. 

34 New Houses from Old 

itself has been the determining factor in the purchase of the property. In 
this case a modest three-bedroom farmhouse without plumbing or other 
conveniences has been added to and converted into an estate house that 
contains seven bedrooms and five baths. One might ask why the owner did 



Fig. 2.31. 

not plan a completely new house. The answer would be that for this owner, 
as for many others who wish to live in a particular area, the building site 
of the old farmhouse with its outbuildings and mature trees was superior 
to an undeveloped site. The old fireplace in the library of the remodeled 
house and the U-shaped winding stair to the second floor were the principal 
interior details of the original house that were retained in the remodeled 

New Houses from Old — Some Examples 




New Houses from Old 










The Chief Types of House Construction 

Xhere are many ways of constructing houses, but if certain rare or local 
types such as adobe, rammed earth, or metal houses, which you are not 
likely to encounter in purchasing a house to remodel, are ignored, there are 
only two basic types of house construction — frame and masonry. The dis- 
tinction between the two is properly made according to materials used in 
the construction of the load-bearing portion of the exterior walls. The frame 
house has a wooden frame. The masonry house has exterior load-bearing 
walls that are made of stone, brick, or other masonry materials. 

Frame Construction - 

The frame house is the most common type in the United States and there- 
fore the type most often remodeled. Builders recognize three types of house 
frames — the braced frame, the platform or western frame, and ths balloon 
frame. Illustrations of all three will be found in Chapter 17. Local variations 
of one type or another are commonly found; and the older the house, the 
less likely that its frame will conform closely to one of the standardized 
types illustrated. Furthermore, if a house has already been remodeled or 
added to, it may contain more than one type of framing. For example, a 
very old house is likely to have a braced frame in the original part and a 
modern type, such as balloon framing, in the more recently built ell. An 
architect or builder who is familiar with the houses in the locality may 
know or can tell after an inspection the type of frame that is in a particular 
house; but it is impossible for the amateur to distinguish one type of modern 
frame from another after the walls are covered. This is unfortunate since 
the type of frame affects certain remodeling operations; nevertheless, it is 

On the other hand, very old houses almost always have braced frames, 
and these old frames are usually made of much heavier timbers than are 
used in modern braced frames. The old braced frame does have two or three 
characteristics that you can distinguish even though you are just learning 


38 New Houses from Old 

the important points of building. One is deep windows. The massive timbers 
in the outer wall create a wall of somewhat greater thickness than is found 
in frame houses of modern construction. Sometimes the window setting is 
deep enough to provide a window seat, and often the deep window opening 
is trimmed on the inside with paneling set obliquely or at right angles to the 
window. Another sign is the presence of beams in the ceilings of the rooms 
on the first floor or, sometimes, throughout the house. However, the absence 
of exposed ceiling beams does not necessarily indicate that there are not 
heavy beams in the ceiling, since these beams were often covered with board- 
ing or lath and plaster when the house was built or later. Massive joists in 
the basement under the first floor in a wooden house may indicate a heavy 
braced frame, but they are not positive indications. 

Plank houses. Another variation of the old wooden house, not common 
but still not rare, is the plank house. Strictly speaking, this is not a frame 
house at all since the exterior walls, and sometimes the interior partitions, 
too, are built of planks laid horizontally upon one another. A house con- 
structed in this manner may appear to be an ordinary frame house, because 
the planks used were frequently only 6 or 8 in. wide and sometimes were 
as narrow as 4 in. However, any alteration that requires cutting or drilling 
into the walls reveals the fact that they are solid wood; hence the fact that 
a specific house is constructed this way is usually well known locally. 

Veneered frame houses. The frame house may appear to be something 
other than a wooden house. The reason for this is that the wooden frame is 
adaptable to many types of exterior wall coverings, such as stucco, brick 
veneer, stone veneer, cement, and asbestos shingles. Without doubt, you will 
suspect a frame house under a stucco or shingle exterior; but you may be 
fooled by a brick or stone veneer house, since a well-built house of either 
of these types has, as it is meant to have, the appearance of a solid brick 
or stone house. The difference is that in the veneer type of construction the 
brick or stone is a facing material only; underneath it there is a frame of 
wood that supports the house. 

Masonry Construction 

In masonry houses the load-bearing portion of the exterior walls is 
masonry — that is, it is made of stone, brick, concrete block, or hollow tile 
set in mortar. 

Stone. The stone house may be built of fieldstone — that is, irregularly 
shaped stones usually picked up from the building site or from some other 
near-by source and built into the wall with little or no cutting or facing 
of the stones. Fieldstone walls can be identified not only by the irregular 

The Chief Types of House Construction 39 

shapes of the stone but also by the large and irregular mortar joints be- 
tween them. Stone walls of this type may be laid up hit or miss, or the 
mason may select the stones with considerable regard for their shapes and 
sizes and lay them up in courses or in some sort of irregular pattern. House 
walls are also made of cut and shaped stones. The source of this type of 
stone is usually a quarry, although stone removed in making an excavation 
or found near the building site is sometimes split or cut on the site itself. 
Walls made of uncut stones are known as rubble masonry, and walls made 
of cut stones are known as ashlar masonry (Fig. 14.11). The use of stone 
as a facing material for wood frames has already been mentioned. Stone 
is also used in housing construction as a facing material for brick, clay tile, 
concrete block, and poured concrete. Stone-faced walls of these types are, 
however, true masonry walls, whereas stone-faced wooden walls are not. 

Brick. Brick walls are made of two types of brick, called face brick and 
common brick. Generally speaking, face brick is brick made of selected 
clays, specially fired and then selected from the viewpoints of attractive 
appearance, durability, and uniformity to give a product that will be durable 
and aesthetically pleasing when built into the exposed surfaces of walls. 
Common brick may be softer, and it often is less pleasing in appearance. 
The outermost bricks in the walls of a brick house of modern construction, 
as well as the bricks used in veneering a frame house, are almost always face 
brick. The painted brick wall is an exception. If, when the house is built, 
it is planned to have painted brick walls, common brick is used rather than 
face brick. Old brick houses were usually built of brick that would be classed 
today as common brick. The source was usually a nearby kiln that produced 
only one quality and color; and although in building the wall the mason 
may have hand-picked the bricks for the outer facing, there is little differ- 
ence between the outermost bricks and those concealed within the wall. 

Clay tile and concrete blocks. Hollow clay tile and concrete blocks or tile 
— they are the same — are relatively modern building materials, but they 
have been used sufficiently long so that you may actually be concerned with 
the remodeling of a house built of one of them. In low-priced housing con- 
crete blocks are sometimes not covered on the outside with a finishing ma- 
terial. Usually, however, they are finished with stucco, brick, or sometimes 
wood or stone. Hollow clay tile, when used in housing construction, is prac- 
tically always finished on the exterior. The same finishes that have been 
mentioned for concrete block can be used. 

Poured concrete. In some sections of the country the poured-concrete house 
is rather common. The walls and sometimes the floors, also, are constructed 
by putting wet concrete into forms and allowing it to harden before the 
forms are removed. Steel rods for reinforcement are put into the forms at 

40 New Houses from Old 

selected points and the concrete is poured around them. If the walls are 
thin, the steel reinforcing may be present throughout them. Poured-concrete 
walls in houses are sometimes left exposed on the exterior, or they may have 
a surface finish of stone or stucco. 

Problems in Remodeling Frame and Masonry Houses 

Most of the special problems that come up in connection with the various 
types of house construction are discussed in this book when the particular 
remodeling operation is treated, but a few of them will be pointed out here. 
It is obvious that changes can be made readily in a frame house that has a 
wooden exterior without regard to the type of frame, because the frame 
will be covered when the remodeling is completed. Sometimes the clapboards 
on an old house will turn out to be of a width or pattern that is not obtain- 
able as a stock product; but this is not a serious problem unless a large 
quantity is needed, because a small quantity of a special width or pattern 
can be made in a local mill or by hand if necessary. Of course, if the clap- 
boards on the old house are completely or mostly in need of replacement, 
they can be replaced with a modern pattern that need not duplicate the orig- 
inal so long as it harmonizes with the age and architecture of the house. 

Obtaining matching stone for a house of rubble masonry is usually not 
difficult because in most cases the original stone had a local origin. Houses 
of ashlar masonry sometimes present a more difficult problem because the 
source of the stone was often a quarry that has been closed down many 
years. Consequently, an alteration or extension to the house that would 
require a considerable quantity of stone must often be made of materials 
that do not match the original structure. Fortunately, a well-designed clap- 
board- or shingle-covered addition to an old stone house is aesthetically 

Although the brickyard that supplied the bricks for an old brick house 
may have been out of business for a long time, an adequate supply of the 
same bricks can often be discovered in the locality, either in the abandoned 
yard itself or in an old barn or house that is quite beyond repair. Modern 
face brick of a distinctive color or texture may, however, be difficult to 
match unless the original manufacturer can be traced and is still in business. 
Practically any brick, new or old, can be matched if you can afford the 
expense of having special brick made to order. A stucco finish is often 
difficult to match, but the color of old stucco can readily be changed by 

Windows and doors can be inserted in a balloon frame house or a plank 
house at practically any point where they are called for by the remodeling 

The Chief Types of House Construction 41 

plan. Although it is not impossible to insert new windows and doors in a 
braced frame, some rather complicated carpentry will be called for to avoid 
weakening the structure if they intercept any of the diagonal braces in 
either an old or a modern frame of this type or the heavy members of an 
old-fashioned braced frame. In masonry walls built of small units such as 
brick, clay tile, or concrete blocks, openings for new windows and doors 
can usually be made easily; but making such openings in solid masonry 
walls such as stone or poured concrete involves laborious cutting and also 
skill in disguising the alteration and making the new opening weather-tight. 
Turning to the interior, the installation of pipes for heating and plumbing 
in the exterior walls of balloon frame houses is relatively easy, since the 
long studs that run from the sill to the rafter plate (Fig. 17.1) provide space 
for them. If pipes must be run in the exterior walls of houses with platform 
framing or braced framing, some rather heavy timber will have to be cut 
through, and such cutting is undesirable both from a structural and a cost 
viewpoint. In some old houses with the massive braced frames the spaces 
between the timbers were filled with what was called nogging, which was 
brick or some other cheap, durable material. If nogging is present, it is im- 
possible to run pipes in the exterior walls unless some of it is removed to 
make room for them. Likewise, there is no room for pipes in the exterior 
walls of plank houses or masonry houses. Methods of making room for them 
and also planning plumbing installations so that the piping can be run 
elsewhere are discussed in Chapter 26. Somewhat similar difficulties arise 
in connection with the installation of insulation (Chapter 25), especially of 
the batt or fill types. There is room for it in frame walls, but room is lacking 
in the typical wall of masonry construction. 



How to Judge a House for Remodeling 

An deciding whether a particular house is structurally worth remodeling, 
you will find yourself in a position similar to the one you would be in if 
you were considering the purchase of a rather high-priced used automobile. 
If you are well versed in automobile mechanics, you should be able to make 
a fairly accurate estimate of the car's serviceability; but if your knowledge 
of the structure of an automobile is limited to the superficial information 
that you have picked up as a driver, you would have three courses open to 
you: you could investigate the car's history carefully; you could hire an 
experienced auto mechanic to examine the car and give you an expert's 
opinion; or you could take a chance. Too many persons follow the last- 
mentioned course in buying houses for remodeling, and therein lies the 
source of most of the sad, costly experiences with remodeling. 

Since judging the structural qualities of an old house is much more com- 
plicated than estimating the merits of a used automobile, you should, if you 
can manage it, get the advice of an architect or builder before committing 
yourself to the extensive remodeling of any house. By all means, don't de- 
pend on what the real-estate agent says about the feasibility of remodeling 
or on the advice of friends who are amateurs, or less, in building. If you 
have lived in the house for some time, you may feel that you know its faults 
and weaknesses, and undoubtedly you do know some of them. Nevertheless, 
there may be surprises in store for you when the house is examined by an 
expert in building. Being in actual possession of the house you are going to 
remodel gives you the advantage of being able to arrange for an appraising 
examination and a thorough discussion of your remodeling plans. Unless 
the remodeling operation is a minor one, this advantage is too valuable to 
be passed over. A similar examination and discussion are even more important 
if you are purchasing a house to remodel. 

Get expert advice when you can; but when you call in an architect to ap- 
praise a house quickly for you, don't expect him to be able to give you after 
one visit to it an exact statement on the cost of the remodeling that you have 
in mind. A reasonably accurate estimate can be made only after you have 


How to Judge a House for Remodeling 43 

developed your rough plan for the remodeled house and after the architect 
has had time to study it. 

However, there are many cases in which a decision must be made quickly 
without benefit of expert advice, and yours may well be one of them. Here, 
therefore, are some structural points that you can check readily, whether 
you are novice or expert. 

The Roof Frame 

Beginning with the ridge of the roof, observe whether it is straight. A 
sagging roof may be picturesque, provided that it has not caved in. In fact, 
occasionally persons who are careless of money will have a sag built into 
the roof of a new house; but you can be sure that the sagging roof that 
you may see on an old house was not built that way. It betrays a partial 
collapse of the roof framing, which certainly would require an extensive 
rebuilding of the roof and possibly, also, of at least the upper portions of 
the framing of the house walls if the house is of frame construction. Don't, 
however, mistake the dip in a Dutch sweeping roof for a sag. This dip is not 
in the horizontal ridge but in the line from the eaves to the ridge, and an 
inspection of the roof's underside will show up the "knuckles" in the rafters 
that were designed to give the roof its sweep. 

The Exterior Walls 

A house that is structurally sound will stand square and plumb on its 
foundations. The corners will form straight, vertical lines. Any leaning or 
lopsidedness that you can detect with the naked eye indicates that some- 
thing is seriously wrong with the foundations or the house frame, or both. 
The same is true of walls that are bulged either vertically or horizontally. 
Masonry walls which are based on adequate foundations and which are well 
constructed of good materials will stand for centuries, but inadequate 
foundations or poor soil conditions under the foundations will cause un- 
even settling, which does not go far before it produces cracks. Such cracks 
can be filled in with mortar and often are by the time a house is offered for 
sale; nevertheless, a good visual inspection will detect them in unpainted 
masonry walls. They can be pretty thoroughly disguised in painted brick 
walls, however. Cracks in masonry walls or the other wall defects that have 
been mentioned do not mean necessarily that the house is about to fall 
down, but they are evidence of structural weaknesses that may be rather 
expensive to remedy. 

44 New Houses from Old 


The value of the existing chimneys should be judged from two viewpoints 
— their condition and whether they are placed where you will want them in 
the remodeled house. Few old chimneys have fire-clay linings (Chapter 16), 
and even chimneys in middle-aged houses often lack them. Although the 
inclusion of such linings is required by most building codes today and is 
standard practice in chimney building even where there is no code require- 
ment, old chimneys with thick, tight walls will operate satisfactorily and 
safely without them; but an old chimney with thin walls — say the thickness 
of a single brick — is not much good if it is unlined. The thickness of a 
chimney and the presence or absence of a lining can be determined by in- 
specting the chimney at an opening for a smoke pipe. A small hand mirror 
is useful in this inspection. The fact that you can see a piece of chimney 
lining projecting from the top of an old chimney is unfortunately no proof 
that the chimney is lined all the way down, because a length or two of lining 
is often inserted when an old chimney is rebuilt at the top. 

Look for cracks all along the exposed parts of the chimney and par- 
ticularly where the chimney passes through the roof. Notice also whether 
the chimney is supported on the earth or whether it is based on a wooden 
beam. Chimneys based on wood are quite unsafe and should be torn down. 
If it is to be useful to you, the chimney should be located where you can 
make use of it after the house is remodeled. Chimneys can be torn down and 
rebuilt, and in rare instances they can be moved in one piece, but both of 
these operations are expensive. 

The Foundation Walls 

The basement, or cellar as it is called in most rural regions, is the next 
place to make an inspection. If the walls are laid up of stones without mor- 
tar, they may be bulged inward in places or perhaps may have fallen in. 
This type of foundation wall, although it is found under many older houses, 
is at best a makeshift. It was never intended to impede the passage of water 
into the basement, and it has the additional fault of gradually but inevitably 
leaning inward as water freezes between the outer face and the adjacent soil. 
If the walls are made of other masonry materials such as stone laid up in 
mortar, brick, or concrete block, still examine them for inward bulges and 
also for cracks. If the basement has defective outer walls or a dirt floor, 
you can be sure that water enters during thaws and after storms unless, of 
course, the house is located on a knoll with exceptionally good drainage and 

How to Judge a House for Remodeling 45 

protection from surface water all around. Even with solidly built walls and 
a concrete floor, it is well to look for high-water marks along the walls. 

Sills, Joists, Girders, and Posts 

The basement is also the place to examine the condition of the sills, the 
girders, and the joists under the first floor and the posts that support the 
girders. To prepare yourself for this inspection, it will be well to read 
Chapter 17 on framing. The sills — found in houses with wooden frames 
and occasionally in masonry houses — are the timbers that rest directly on 
the foundation walls. Because they may be exposed to moisture, carried up- 
ward in the wall as water is carried upward by a wick, the sills in an old 
house are often decayed. If the decay has penetrated deeply enough, por- 
tions of the sill may already have been crushed by the weight of the wall 
above. Decay that has not gone so far can be discovered by pushing the 
small blade of a pocket knife into the wood. If the blade goes in easily 
more than 1 in. or so, decay is well advanced. 

The joists are the wooden timbers that support the floor above and to 
which in most types of construction the subfloor, which is the first layer of 
flooring put down, is nailed. In middle-aged and recent houses, the joists 
are usually sawed lumber, the common dimensions being 2 in. by 6 in., 2 in. 
by 8 in., or 2 in. by 10 in. In older houses and in farmhouses, they are often 
of wider lumber, 4 in. by 6 in., 4 in. by 8 in., or even larger; or they may 
be small logs sawed lengthwise with the flat surface next to the floor or round 
logs with the top surface flattened somewhat to make a bearing for the floor 
boards. Where the joists are of sawed lumber, bridging (Fig. 17.7) is 
usually present; but it is seldom found in conjunction with log joists. In 
damp basements the joists may be decayed throughout their entire length, 
but they are more susceptible to decay at the foundation-wall end, where 
in frame houses they rest on the sills and in masonry houses often on the 
foundation wall itself. They should be examined visually and also probed 
with a knife. In addition to looking for decay, see whether they bend down- 
ward near the middle of their spans. In many old houses the joists were 
fitted into holes cut in the sill. To make this mortise joint, the size of the 
joists was often cut down greatly at the sill end, which practice had the 
effect of destroying a good proportion of the strength of the piece. The joists 
may be decayed at the mortise joint or they may be split there. 

The girders are the timbers that support the ends of the joists opposite 
to the ends supported by the sill or foundation wall. They are considerably 
heavier than the joists. In older houses they usually consist of single heavy 
timbers; in houses built in more recent times they are more often made up 


New Houses from Old 

of several pieces bolted or spiked together. The girders are especially sub- 
ject to decay at the ends where they usually rest directly on the foundation 
walls; and, of course, in damp basements they may be rotted throughout 
their lengths. 

In addition to being supported at the ends, girders are usually supported 
by posts at one or more places along their spans. Cast- or wrought-iron posts 
are very durable, but unfortunately they are not commonly found. In old 
houses wooden posts are the usual supports for girders, and they are fre- 
quently found to be rotted at the end that is in contact with the basement 
floor. Rotted posts cause the center of the house to settle. The settling may 
give rise to such defects as uneven floors, skewed doorframes, and cracks 
in the plaster. The total result is to give the house an appearance of quite 
unsound construction; but unless the settling has gone far, it can be cor- 
rected and permanently cured at less cost than many of the other operations 
in restoring an old house. 


In regions where subterranean termites are found, look for evidence of 
infestation by these pests (Figs. 4.1 and 4.2). Termite shelter tubes on the 
basement walls are positive evidence of termites. They may occur either on 
the outside or on the inside of the walls, but they are found more often on 
the inside. The absence of these shelter tubes is not, unfortunately, positive 

(Courtesy U. S. Department of Agriculture.) 
Fig. 4.1. — Termite shelter tubes on a foundation wall. 

How to Judge a House for Remodeling 


|» » IM>« »<! | 

(Courtesy U. S. Dcpattmcnt of Aaticulture ) 

Fig. 4.2. — Termite damage to sill and studs. The siding and sheathing have been 
removed to facilitate inspection. 

evidence that the house is free of infestation, since subterranean termites can 
gain access to the house frame through wood that is in contact with the soil 
or through cracks or other openings in basement walls. 

If there is any reason to suspect termite infestation, the sills and other 
wooden members of the house that rest on the foundation walls or on soil 
should be examined thoroughly. Wooden posts that support porches should 
not be overlooked. If termites are found and if you still want to buy the 
house, arrange for an examination by an expert before signing the papers. 
In some instances termite damage can be repaired inexpensively. In others 
the cost runs into many hundreds of dollars. 

Plumbing and Heating Systems 

If the house already has plumbing and heating, you can judge the worth 
of some parts of the systems easily, but other equally important ones will be 
difficult to appraise. You can, for example, decide quickly whether the bath- 
room fixtures are what you want or whether they will have to be replaced 
when you remodel. A quick test to find out whether the supply piping is 
reasonably free of corrosion can be made by opening several faucets in the 
bathroom at one time. If a strong flow of clear water comes forth from all 
of them simultaneously, the supply piping is in good condition; but if the 
flow is small or discolored, the piping is probably in need of replacement. 

48 New Houses from Old 

If there is more than one bathroom, the test should be repeated in each one. 
The make and apparent age of the heating system can be noted. If the 
house is inspected in cold weather when the system is in operation, you 
can observe whether the system appears to be keeping the house warm. 
However, the safest way to appraise the condition of a plumbing or heating 
system is to have an inspection and working test made by a plumber or a 
heating contractor. In many sections of the country such tests are standard 
practice when houses change hands, and they are much more satisfactory 
to both buyer and seller than a guarantee by the seller that the systems are 
in "good working order." 

Other Details 

There are many superficial details that you can, and undoubtedly will, 
pass judgment on. Among these is the condition of the roof covering — 
whether it leaks and whether, if it is watertight, it will suit the remodeled 
house you have in mind. The best place to look for leaks is in the attic on 
the underside of the roof. Water stains on the plaster or wallpaper of the 
upper rooms, also, usually indicate leaks in the roof. However, rain water 
will also come in through defective outer walls, whether they are wood or 
masonry, and around improperly built door and window openings. You can 
readily see whether the condition of the siding material is satisfactory or 
whether it will have to be repaired or replaced and whether the house has 
gutters and leaders to carry off the rain that falls on the roof. If these are 
present, it is fairly easy to see whether they are in need of replacement. 
Inside the house you will observe the condition of the walls, the wood- 
work, and the floors. 

In deciding whether the house is worth remodeling, it is equally impor- 
tant to look at it from the viewpoint of what you wish to make of it. Ask 
yourself how closely it resembles in shape and layout the house that you 
would like after the remodeling is completed. It may come very close in- 
deed, or it may be so far from it that you will have to build a substantial 
addition to the original structure; yet remodeling may be justified in either 
case, depending on such factors as the value of the location to you and 
the price you must pay for the house. 

Other factors worth taking into account in judging an old house are the 
materials and the craftsmanship. If it is very old, it may well contain wood 
the equal of which is quite unobtainable now because the fine virgin timber 
from which it was cut no longer exists. A fairly large number of people 
treasure examples of old craftsmanship. The hand-wrought hardware on its 
doors and windows has sold many an old house. The worth of such things 

How to Judge a House for Remodeling 49 

to you will depend partly on your financial resources and partly on your 
tastes, but they do have a market value. It is not necessary to go to very 
old houses to find superior building materials. Our fathers built many 
substantial houses of very good materials. A floor of quartersawed oak, for 
example, may not appear to be an asset in the color or condition in which 
you are likely to find it when you inspect a middle-aged house, but the 
chances are good that it can be restored and refinished for considerably less 
money than a new oak floor or its equivalent would cost today. 

In closing this part of the discussion, permit the authors to say again 
that judging the structure of an old house, from the viewpoint of either its 
quality or the complications that will arise in remodeling, is far from 
a simple matter. In a finished house many of the important structural ele- 
ments are hidden from view, but an architect or builder is usually able to 
appraise them because of his experience with houses of similar construction. 
Let the authors warn you, also, that perfect old houses are as rare as per- 
fect persons. If you are paying a good price for the house rather than for 
its site or location, you do have a right to your money's worth in geod 
construction and finish; but if you are getting it at a bargain price, you 
may or may not, depending on your luck, get a house that can be con- 
verted into a model of convenience and attractiveness by the expenditure 
of only a few hundred dollars. Most houses in desirable locations, either 
urban or rural, that are offered for sale at low prices present a rather 
sorry appearance to the discriminating eye. As one New England farmer 
remarked when a prospective purchaser commented on the lack of paint on 
a house being offered for sale, "Miss, in the long run clapboards are a sight 
cheaper than paint." The trick is to be able to see in the weather-beaten and 
timeworn house before you the beautiful and comfortable house that can be 
made of it and to paint the vision not on wishful thinking but on sound 



Halls and Stairs 


In the planning of low-cost new houses, the hall is one of the conveniences 
that is sometimes omitted on the theory that it is used little in comparison 
to living room, kitchen, bedrooms, and other rooms in the house. It is 
doubtful, however, whether this reasoning should be applied to any but the 
most inexpensive houses of the bungalow type. 

The usefulness of a hall is well illustrated in Fig. 5.1, which shows the 
plan of the first floor of a not very expensive house occupied by one of the 
authors. The small entrance lobby with its two doors not only serves to 
keep out drafts of cold air when the outer door is opened, but it is large 
enough to serve as a place to interview canvassers and other callers whose 
mission does not interest the lady of the house. The hall isolates very effec- 
tively both the kitchen and the half bathroom from the living room. It 
separates the dining room from the living room and thus makes it possible 
to arrange the table for dinner without disturbing guests being entertained 
in the living room. It makes access to the second-floor stairs from any of 
the lower-floor rooms possible without going through another room. The 
smaller back hall is an extra convenience because it enables packages to be 
delivered directly to the kitchen, it is used for the reception of callers at 
the back door, and it provides a fairly private entrance to the half bath- 
rooin from the kitchen and from the front hall. Other good hall layouts 
are to be found in most of the house plans shown in Chapter 2. 

Hall dimensions. The desirable width of the first-floor hall depends some- 
what on the type of home of which it is a part. The front hall in a well- 
appointed home is likewise designed not only for its utility but also to give 
visitors the impression that they are entering a comfortable and hospitable 
dwelling. Space for the hall is seldom stinted in planning a luxurious home. 
In modest homes the front hall should be cheerful and attractive, but it is 
necessary to allot to it only the space required by utility. Since families do 
move their furniture from house to house, and furniture is usually moved 
through the hall, the minimum width for a hall is 3 ft. This is the width 


Halls and Stairs 


Fig. 5.1. — A convenient hall arrangement. A kitchen wing such as this one is often 
added in remodeling. 

of the usual front door, hence it is apparent that it is not excessive. You 
will probably want a somewhat wider front hall in your remodeled home. 
A more satisfactory width for the downstairs hall in most homes is 6 ft., 
and 8 ft. is probably the maximum width that should be planned except in 
elaborate dwellings. 

The necessary length of the hall recalls Lincoln's sage remark about the 
best length for a man's legs. As a man's legs should be long enough to reach 
from his trunk to the ground, so should a hall be long enough to serve its 
intended purpose. The gist of good hall planning is to make the hall ade- 
quate in both size and location to the house plan but to give up no more 
room to it than you must, for the hall does represent space that must be 
maintained and heated, although it is used neither for work nor relaxation. 
In remodeling, a hall must sometimes be built out of space that was for- 
merly included in other rooms; on the other hand, halls are sometimes re- 
duced in size (Fig. 2.22) to improve the house plan. 

Hall floors. The choice of flooring materials for the hall should be made 
carefully. Many homeowners prefer hardwood that harmonizes with the 


New Houses from Old 

{Courtesy Pondcrosa Pine IVoodzvork.) 

Fig. 5.2. — The front hall in a well-built house. Note the folding door on the closet 
and the waterproof floor. 

floors of rooms that can be seen from the front entrance. Flooring materials 
are discussed in Chapter 22, but let it be said here that if your home is an 
average one with several growing children in it, you will probably find a 
waterproof material such as inlaid linoleum or asphalt tile (Fig. 5.2) more 
suitable for the main hall than a wooden floor. Even in families composed 
wholly of adults, there is still the problem of dirty overshoes and dripping 
raincoats and umbrellas to argue for a floor that can withstand mud and 
water. In remodeling, a floor of asphalt tile or inlaid linoleuin in the hall 
often saves money, as these floorings can be laid satisfactorily over worn 
old flooring. 

Halls and Stairs 


Hall lighting. Both downstairs and upstairs halls should be adequately 
lighted. Side brackets or a ceiling fixture should be located where they will 
illuminate the end of the hall that is near the front door, and if the hall is 
long, another ceiling fixture should be included near the opposite end. One 
or more ceiling fixtures, depending on the hall's length and shape, should 
be installed in a second-floor hall. The ceiling fixtures should be controlled 
by the so-called three-way switches so that the hall lights on both floors can 
be turned on or off from either floor. If the hall is arranged so that it can 
be entered also from the back door, as in the hall shown in Fig. 5.1, an addi- 
tional switch to operate the lights of the lower hall should be located near 
the back entrance. A closet (Chapter 11) for outdoor wraps and related 
paraphernalia is an almost necessary adjunct to the main-floor hall, and linen 
closets are often attached to halls on other floors. The location of lavatories 
and bathrooms (Chapter 9) also affects hall arrangement, and vice versa. 


Stairs in houses evolved slowly from crude ladders, hence it is not sur- 
prising that the stairs in many old houses, and in some built rather recently, 
fail to measure up to good standards of stair building. You may elect to 
keep the old stairs without altering them in a very old house that you are 
restoring, even though they climb hazardously and steeply around a chim- 

CHedrich-Blessing Studio. Courtesy United States Gypsum Company.') 
Fig. 5.3.— Before. Fig. 5.4.— After. 

54 New Houses from Old 

ney; but there is little excuse for retaining unsafe stairs in an average house, 
because the medical expenses that may result from one bad fall can easily 
be greater than the cost of building a good flight of stairs. 

Stair dimensions and design. Considered from the viewpoint of utility, 
good stairs have relatively wide treads in comparison to their risers. A good 
depth for the tread from the front of the nosing to the back is 10 in. A good 
height for the riser is about T^'-j in., but the height of the riser may vary 
slightly because the sum of the heights of all the risers must equal exactly 
the distance between the floors connected by the flight of stairs; and in all 
properly designed stairs this floor-to-floor height is evenly divided among 
the risers so that one steps up or down the same distance on each step. 

The best stairs have no winders. These irregularly shaped treads have 
been the cause of thousands of accidents, and if they are present in stairs 
that are being remodeled, they should be eliminated if possible. Handrails 
should be provided for all stairs, including boxed stairs and basement stairs. 
Headroom of at least 6 ft. 8 in., measured vertically from the front edge 
of any tread to the ceiling above, is necessary. 

Safe stairs are well lighted (Figs. 5.4 and 5.5). Preferably, they are 
located so that they will be lighted in the daytime by natural light from 
the hall doors and from windows on the landings or from some other con- 
venient location. In most houses the hall lighting can be planned so that 
adequate artificial light will fall on the stairs from the hall lighting fixtures, 
but stairway lights must be provided in boxed stairs. 

Considered from the viewpoint of beauty, the main stairway in a house 
should be designed so that it will add to rather than detract from the attrac- 
tiveness of the hall or room from which it rises. The main stairways in 
some finely built old houses are works of art in their own right, but the 
stairways in houses built about a generation ago in what might be called 
the era of fumed oak were often ugly and clumsily designed. Fortunately, 
producers of millwork now offer stock newels, balusters, and railings in 
many attractive designs that can be assembled into graceful stairs (Fig. 5.5) 
that suit even luxurious homes. H the stairs in the house that you are 
remodeling have correctly designed treads and risers, you may be able to 
transform them by replacing the clubby balustrade and newel post with a 
more graceful design. 

Stair locations. The installation of stairs in houses where they do not exist 
or the replacement of poorly designed stairs with safe ones is an important 
problem in many remodeling plans and one that must usually be solved 
satisfactorily before the plan has progressed far. You may have to leave the 
actual building of stairs to carpenters who are experienced in the art, but 
you will have to know where you want the stairs placed, how you want them 

Halls and Stairs 


(Hedrich-Blessing Studio. Courtesy Curtis Companies, 
Inc., Clinton, Iowa, manufacturers of Curtis Woodwork.) 

Fig. 5.5. — An attractive staircase in a well-designed hall. 

built, and their main dimensions if you are to get satisfactory results from 
the carpenter's work. 

The most convenient place for the main stairway is from the first-floor 
hall, if the house has this feature. Perhaps the second-best location is the 
living room, and the third best is the dining room; but these locations should 
be avoided, if possible, because of the inconvenience when servants or mem- 
bers of the family must use the stairs while guests are being entertained in 
the living room or dining room and because a stairway in one or the other 
of these rooms reduces the useful area of the room. 

The stairway arrangement shown in Fig. 5.6 illustrates an excellent solu- 
tion of the stairway problem in a house where room could not be spared 


New Houses from Old 




Fig. 5.6. — A space-saving and convenient arrangement of stairs. 

for a center hall wide enough to include the stairs. Although the stairs in 
this house are entered from the living room, the alternative entrance from 
the kitchen makes use of the stairway possible without distracting the occu- 
pants of the living room. In the remodeling, the floor area occupied by the 
stairs was taken from the living room; but this disadvantage was offset by 
the convenience of the small entrance hall, which was lacking in the house 
before it was remodeled. The door at the stairway entrance from the kitchen 
can be closed to keep kitchen noise and odors from the living room. When 
stairs must be located in the living room or dining room, pains should be 
taken to place them where they will reduce the window area of the room 
as little as possible. 

The location of stairways over one another is a standard way of econo- 
mizing on space. Such an arrangement of basement, first-floor, and attic 
stairs is diagramed in Fig. 17.10. Stair locations of this type, however, do 
have the defect of permitting a fire that starts in the basement to spread 
from basement to attic within a few seconds if the door at the head of the 
basement stairs happens to be open. 

Basement stairs located so that they can be entered from the kitchen are 

Halls and Stairs 


convenient if the basement is used for the storage of food or if the heating 
plant is hand-fired. If the basement is used for utility purposes only, a 
simply made utility stair of unfinished lumber will be adequate, but as 
much attention should be paid to correct spacing of the treads and to pro- 
vision of a handrail as in a first-floor stairway. 

Boxed stairs are the common type for the passageway from the second 
floor to the attic. If the attic is used for storage purposes, the entrance to 
these stairs may be located in a bedroom; but the standard location from 
the second-floor hall is undoubtedly the better one from the viewpoint of 
convenience. The disappearing type of stair, of which there are a number 
of makes available, is fairly satisfactory as the stairway to an attic used for 
storage only. 



*► I 

Fig. 5.7. — Plan and profile of straight-run stairs. Horizontal distance a to b equals 
sum of depths of treads less depths of nosings. Vertical distance c to d equals sum 
of heights of risers. 

Some technical aspects of stairs. Various shapes of stairways have been 
evolved to fit various situations and structural plans. The oft-mentioned 
spiral stair is a hazardous type because all of its treads are winders. For- 
tunately, although it requires the least floor area of any type, it is almost 
never used in houses. Curved or winding stairways are graceful and aestheti- 
cally pleasing when they are well designed, but they still retain the hazard 
of irregularly shaped treads and furthermore are an expensive type to design 
and build. The straight run stair (Fig. 5.7) is a common type in houses, 
but it can be used only where there is considerable floor area available for 


New Houses from Old 

the stairway, and it has the further disadvantage of having no landing to 
afford a break in the effort of climbing. The L-shaped stair (Fig. 5.5) is a 
pleasing type if it is intelligently designed; and since it can be fitted into 
houses of modest dimensions, it is perhaps adaptable to more stairway situ- 
ations that will be encountered in remodeling than is any other shape. The 
U-shaped stair (Fig. 5.8) is economical of floor space; and if it is properly 
designed with an adequate landing, it is a very satisfactory type. 







A B 

Fig. 5.8. — Profiles and plans of two arrangements of U-shaped stairs. Arrangement 
A is economical of space, but arrangement B is necessary when a door or full- 
height closet must be placed under the landing. 

The terminology of stairs sounds rather technical but is actually simple. 
The treads are the horizontal pieces on which you step; if the treads are 
roughly triangular in shape, as they must be if they turn a corner, they are 
called winders; the risers are the vertical pieces that fill the gaps between 
the treads; the part of the tread that projects over the riser is called the 
nosing. The banister, or balustrade, is made up of small pilasters, called 
balusters, and the handrail. The post that supports the end of the handrail 
is called the neivel, or neivel post. A landing is a horizontal platform con- 
siderably deeper than a tread, which is inserted somewhere in the flight of 

Halls and Stairs 59 

stairs to provide a moment's respite from climbing. The stringer (also 
called carriage and also called horse!) is the notched piece of lumber into 
which the treads and risers are fitted; in a finished flight of stairs the 
stringers may be completely concealed, but they can readily be seen in 
unfinished stairs such as are commonly found in basements. Stairs that run 
between two partitions are called boxed stairs. They may have a door at 
the top or bottom, or both. 

If your remodeling requires the building or alteration of stairs, you 
will need to include them in your preliminary floor plans; therefore, you 
will have to know how to figure out whether there is room for them where 
you wish to place them. At least one flight of stairs that leads from the 
main floor to the second floor should be 3 ft. wide, and 3 ft. 6 in. is better. 
This width is dictated not by the dimensions of the persons who will use 
the stairs but by the necessity of moving bulky furniture up and down 
them. Landings should be large enough to enable two adults to stand on 
them without feeling crowded, because landings are often used as passing 

Once you have found a place where the necessary width can be spared, 
you have to concern yourself with the other dimensions of the stairs. Rather 
elaborate tables have been drawn up for the calculation of stair dimensions, 
but you had better leave the use of them to such persons as architects and 
builders and use a simpler method for your calculations. As has already 
been mentioned, a good depth for stair treads is 10 in., and a good height 
for the risers is about 7^4 in. Referring to Fig. 5.7, line c-d, it is easy to 
see that the heights of the risers, all added together, must equal the distance, 
measured vertically, from the first floor to the second. If this distance is 
9 ft., or 108 in., and you are aiming at riser height of about 7^ in., or 
7.5 in. in decimals, you find the approximate number of risers needed by 
dividing 108 by 7.5; thus 108 -^ 7.5 = 14.44. Now you know that about 
fourteen risers will be necessary, and you find the exact height of each by 
dividing 108 in. by 14, which equals 7.7 in. 

Your next problem is the length of the floor area needed for the flight of 
stairs. This is determined by the depth of each tread multiplied by the 
number of treads. The depth of the nosing can be deducted, since it over- 
hangs the area of the tread directly beneath. If each tread is 10 in. deep, 
and there are thirteen of them — one less than there are risers — in your 
flight of stairs, 13 X 10 in. = 130 in. (Fig. 5.7, line a-b). 

Suppose you do not have this much room to spare where you wish to 
place the stairs? It is obvious that the same number of risers can be built 
into a U-shaped flight of stairs, and the horizontal area required will not be 
nearly so long. However, even though you are able to make use of U-shaped 

60 New Houses from Old 

stairs in which each leg of the U is exactly the same length, the area will 
be more than half as long, because if you are to avoid the use of winders, 
you must insert a landing in this type of stair. Fig. 5.8 shows two layouts 
for U-shaped stairs. Note that there are fourteen risers but only twelve 
treads, because the landing takes the place of one of the latter. Say that the 
landing in Fig. 5.8A is the same width as the stairs, 36 in.; the length of 
the floor area required is now only the depth of six treads, 6 X 10 in. = 60 
in., plus the width of the landing, 36 in., or 96 in. The same kind of reason- 
ing and similar diagrams can be applied to the rough layout of stairs of 
any shape that do not include winders. 

One further problem in the layout of stairs is the allowance for headroom 
if you want to use the space under a landing for a door. In such a case, the 
landing must come high enough in the flight of stairs so that the ceiling 
under it will have the necessary clearance. Since a standard door has a 
height of 6 ft. 6 in., and the thickness of the landing, including its floor, 
framework, and the ceiling material on the underside, would be 10 or 12 
in., the landing would have to come at a height of about 7 ft. 6 in., measured 
from the first floor. A little calculation will show that to provide room for 
a door under the landing of the stairs that we have been considering as an 
example, the first leg of the U would have to contain twelve risers, since 
each riser measures only 7.7 in. in height, in order to provide the 90 in. 
needed, and the second leg would contain only two risers (Fig. 5.8B). 



Living Rooms 

vJf all the rooms in the house, the living room furnishes the most strik- 
ing illustration of contrast between our attitude today toward the houses 
we live in and the corresponding attitude of our immediate ancestors. The 
living room in the American home of a generation ago was at best a place 
for sitting; its decorations were not selected to give much aesthetic pleasure 
and its furniture did not permit much relaxation. Going back another gen- 
eration, you find in lieu of the living room the parlor, whose fragile bric- 
a-brac and spindly furniture were exposed to the hazards of contact with 
the family only at weddings, the visits of specially honored guests, and 
similar grand occasions. The chief quality of the living room in a well- 
managed modern home is that it is designed for daily living. Although 
efforts are not spared to make it attractive to the eye, it is intended for use 
rather than exhibition. It is planned and furnished as a center for relaxation 
and for the enjoyment of family life. 

An interesting aspect of this change is that it is purely social. Many of 
the transformations that have occurred in other parts of the house have a 
technological basis. For example, the many square feet of gleaming surface 
that go into a modern bathroom or kitchen were not available until inex- 
pensive methods of making durable, porcelain-enameled metal were de- 
veloped by inventors and industry. However, remove the radio from a 
contemporary living room, and little or nothing will be left that could 
not have been manufactured thirty years ago if the demand had existed. Take 
out the electric illumination, and this date could be pushed back a hundred 
years or more. 

Since the philosophy of the living room has changed drastically in our 
generation, it is not surprising to find that the room that has served as the 
living room in a middle-aged or old house is not always suited to the same 
use in the remodeled house. It may be too small, its shape may be wrong, 
its ceiling may be too high, its lighting fixtures may be ugly, its woodwork 
may be designed in the worst of taste and finished in a shade or color that 
repels rather than attracts, its mantel may be top-heavy, and the fireplace 



New Houses from Old 



Fig. 6.1. — This typical New England farmhouse required no important structural 
changes to transform it into a comfortable modern house. 

may be an obtrusive mass of ill-shaped masonry. Of course, there are many 
exceptions. The house whose first-floor plan is shown in Fig. 6.1 was built 
about 1875, and when it was remodeled in 1940, its living room required 
no change except redecorating. But it was an inexpensive farmhouse. The 
young farmer who built it may have had no money for decorated plaster 
ceilings and fretted woodwork; or perhaps the sane architectural traditions 
handed down by his New England ancestors steered him, or his wife, away 
from them. 

Living Rooms 63 

Living-room Planning in Remodeling 

Although in most instances of extensive remodeling the living room must 
be altered or a new one created, this is not often a difficult part of the re- 
modeling operation, and the chief reason is that people no longer think that 
the only place for the living room is on the street side of the house. Some 
such factor as a view, exposure to the sun, or freedom from undesirable 
noise may well lead you to place your remodeled living room at the rear 
of the house or even on the second floor. In the remodeling of farmhouses, 
the old kitchen often becomes the new living room because it is spacious, 
because it has a fireplace, or because it is located away from the street or 
road. Second-floor living rooms are common in town houses where the 
necessity for getting away from the noise and dirt of metropolitan streets 
is obvious; and they have proved attractive features of some suburban 
houses, especially houses built against hillsides that provide ground-level 
entrances to both stories. 

Theoretically, before you crystallize your plan for the new living room, 
you should analyze the needs and likes of the various members of your 
family and design a living room to suit them. If you plan a basement 
recreation room, it will take care of games and dancing; otherwise you 
may wish to provide for these recreations in the living room. A grand piano 
will crowd a small living room; but in addition to its intended use, it is 
often the piece of furniture around which a large room can be designed. 
Probably when you bought the cabinet radio, you had to rearrange the furni- 
ture in your old living room. Considering that a television set must be 
looked at from a point fairly near the set and not too far away from a 
perpendicular line based on the screen, you should, theoretically, plan a part 
of your living room so that it can function as a miniature auditorium. 

All of this advance planning is good theory, and it will be a good idea 
for you to give some time to it in order to get fairly clear in your mind 
what you want in the way of a living room. However, the truth is that in 
remodeling, the space that you have available or that you can get by re- 
moving a partition or by building an addition to the house usually deter- 
mines the dimensions of the new living room. Your house may have an old 
kitchen with a floor area 12 ft. long by 15 ft. wide. The location and every- 
thing else about it may be right except the dimensions, which are somewhat 
smaller than your preliminary plans indicate that you need. Enlarging the 
room would be expensive because of thick masonry walls or some other 
structural feature. Unless you are exceptionally well-heeled, you will accept 

64 New Houses from Old 

the space available, for it is large enough to make a living room of fair 

Take another typical case. In the house as it is now arranged, there is an 
old parlor and a dining room, each measuring 10 ft. by 14 ft. The partition 
between them can be removed to form a room 14 ft. wide by 20% ft. long — 
more room than you need. Furthermore, the fireplace will not be centered 
where you want it in the enlarged room. You can cut off some of the length 
of the room by building bookcases or cupboards and window seats at one 
end — a relatively inexpensive operation — but you will probably leave the 
fireplace where it is, since relocating it would be an expensive job, and dis- 
guise its bad location by a clever arrangement of furniture. Only when you 
put the living room in a new addition to the old house can you make it 
precisely the right size, and even in such a case you will be limited to some 
extent, because the new wing must be correctly proportioned to the old 

Living-room dimensions. There are no rigidly standardized dimensions 
for living rooms. There are certain general principles that should be fol- 
lowed, however. The living room should be longer than it is wide. The square, 
or nearly square, parlor with its central chandelier is not adaptable to 
modern living-room arrangements and furniture. The living-room ceiling 
should not be too high. Old houses with 12-ft. ceilings in the first-floor 
rooms are not uncommon. A high ceiling can be corrected by suspending 
a new ceiling from the old one. The low ceiling found in many farmhouses 
is difficult to correct structurally, but its claustrophobic effect can be counter- 
acted by omitting from the walls such things as picture moldings and wall- 
paper borders and by finishing the ceiling in white or a very light tint. Any 
new ceiling that you build will have to meet the height requirements of the 
local building code, unless your house is located where no building code 
applies. Building codes often prescribe minimum ceiling heights. Where 
there is no code requirement to be met, 7 ft. 6 in. is satisfactory for rooms 
up to about 12 ft. by 16 ft.; in larger living rooms better proportions are 
obtained if the ceiling height is increased by 6 in. or 1 ft. 

Living-room windows. The windows in the living room should be designed 
and placed to give the desirable amount of daylight, adequate ventilation, 
and a pleasant view. The maximum amount of daylight is afforded in the 
newly developed solar house. In this type of construction practically the 
entire wall area on the sunny side of the living room is glass. Since the site 
must be carefully chosen and the house framing specially designed, there 
are few cases of remodeling to which this new idea is adaptable, although 
you should investigate it if it appeals to you. To a certain extent the picture 

Living Rooms 65 

window, a rather common feature of houses both new and old in some 
sections of the country, anticipated the solar house. 

The tremendous amount of heat that is lost through large areas of glass 
tended to limit the old-style, single-glazed picture window to parts of the 
country where the winters are mild, but the recent invention of double- 
glazed windows, in which there is a sealed space between the two panes that 
is filled with dry air, has extended the usefulness of large windows to all 
climates. Although windows of large, unbroken areas admit generous amounts 
of light and have a dramatic quality, too, they may present both structural 
and architectural difficulties in remodeling — ^the first because special fram- 
ing is needed around the window, the second because such a window may 
stick out like a billboard among the other windows of the house. However, 
an architect can probably find a way around both of these difficulties if you 
feel strongly that you must have a picture window in your new living room, 

Windows on two sides of the living room are almost essential not only 
for adequate light but also for ventilation. Windows on three sides will, 
of course, admit more light and air; but too many windows do not leave 
enough wall space for the furniture that cannot be placed in front of a 
window. Look at any living room, or living-room plan, and you will see 
that even in a room of generous size the unbroken space along the walls 
is surprisingly small. At least one wall is broken by the doorway that gives 
access to other parts of the house; the fireplace takes up a good share of 
another wall; and if there is a stairway in the living room, it takes up still 
more wall space. The arrangement most likely to prove satisfactory in a 
living room of average size has windows on two sides only and these sides 
opposite to one another. The next best arrangement has windows on two 
adjacent sides; while if your remodeled living room is to have windows on 
three sides, you will have to pay special attention to the position of the fire- 
place and doorways, and you may find it profitable to spend considerable 
time experimenting with a scaled floor plan and templates to represent your 
furniture before the final remodeling plans are drawn. 

Fireplaces and Mantels 

An open fire has for human beings a deep-seated fascination that has 
never been fully explained. This almost instinctive response has kept the 
fireplace in our living rooms long after it has been superseded as an efficient 
heating device. The same quirk of psychology demands a fairly central 
location for the fireplace in the room, for we enjoy the fire most when we 
can look into it. The location shown in Fig. 6.2 is a common one that has 

66 New Houses from Old 

many advantages. Enough furniture to seat a family of considerable size 
can be grouped before the fireplace without blocking access to the rest of the 
room. The wasteful loss of heat that occurs when the chimney is part of an 
outside wall is reduced, but the most important advantage of this location 
is that there are no windows over or beside the fireplace. Picture the fire- 
place located in the opposite wall of the same room. The bulk of its masonry 
is exposed to the outdoor air, consequently much of the heat of the fire 
will be lost. Anyone who sits on the sofa in front of the fireplace in the 
daytime will be troubled by glare from the windows in the same wall. These 
windows will also destroy much of the architectural effectiveness of a well- 
designed fireplace. Nevertheless, this second type of location is almost as 
common in modern houses as the first. The heat loss is, of course, ignored, 
and the glare can be minimized by locating the windows at some distance 
from the fireplace or by keeping them relatively small in area. 

Crudely designed mantels with more bulk than beauty dominate the living 
rooms in a majority of old-fashioned houses. Apparently fireplace builders 
passed through a period in which their main object was to pile up massive 
conglomerations of stone or brick in American living rooms, and carpenters 
vied with them to crown the piles with equally massive and ugly mantels. 
Anyone who sees one of these old-fashioned fireplaces for the first time 
may be excused if he thinks that it is beyond remodeling. 

Turning these monstrosities into fireplaces that decorate rather than dis- 
figure the living room is not at all difficult. In most cases, the trick is turned 
by reducing the height of the fireplace and sometimes, also, its width, then 
concealing its mass by building bookcases or cupboards on both sides to 
give the effect of a wall flush, or nearly so, with the front of the fireplace. 
The mantel itself may be dispensed with entirely, or it may be replaced with 
a narrow, unobtrusive shelf. Attractive mantels suitable for most cases of 
remodeling can be obtained as stock patterns from manufacturers of mill 
supplies; but in the restoration of antique houses it is often necessary to 
have the mantel made by hand by a local craftsman in order to match other 
woodwork in the room. 

Bookcases and Other Built-in Furniture 

Built-in furniture (Figs. 6.3, 6.4, 6.6, and 6.7) is useful in the remodeling 
of living rooms not only for its utility and decorative values but also because 
it can be used to alter the faulty proportions of a room and to straighten out 
unwanted offsets. Such furniture is also used in many remodeled houses to 
conceal heating or plumbing pipes that run to the floor above. 

Living Rooms 







~r\>i 1 















Fig. 6.2. — Good fireplace location in a medium-sized living room. 

(.Courtesy Superior Fireplace Company.) 

Fig. 6.3. — Careful planning by the homeowner or his architect is essential to 
achieve distinctive rooms such as this one. The decorative hood over this fireplace 
conceals the warm-air outlet of the built-in fireplace unit. 


New Houses from Old 

(CoHj-^piji Hcatilator, Inc.) 

Fig. 6.4. — An attractive and well -located fireplace. The warm-air outlets of the 
built-in fireplace unit are disguised in the recessed niches in the paneling. 

(Hedrich-Blessing Studio. Courtesy Curtis Companies, Inc., manufacturers of Curtis Woodzvork.) 
Fig. 6.5. — An attractive modern mantel. 

Living Rooms 


{Courtesy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.) 
Fig. 6.6. — This well-proportioned living room with its attractive fireplace and 
mantel appears to be old, but the effect is due largely to the ceiling built by the 
newly developed plank-and-beam type of construction. 

Fig. 6.7. — When the fireplace is flanked by built-in bookcases, a mantel is often 
unnecessary. Other illustrations of this house are shown in Figs. 2.6 to 2.10. 

70 New Houses from Old 

Lighting and Electrical Outlets 

Because so much reading is done in the living room, special attention 
should be given to the design of the living-room lighting. The old-time 
central chandelier served its purpose fairly well when it was the custom 
for the family to gather around a table under it, but it does not suit the 
modern living room. Living-room illumination is now obtained almost en- 
tirely from portable lamps plugged into conveniently located baseboard 
outlets. These lamps are articles of furniture rather than parts of the house 
and therefore need not themselves be included in the remodeling plans. 
However, outlets for them must be included. 

Since it is any housewife's privilege to rearrange the furniture in her 
living room every few months, it is best not to economize on outlets in the 
living room. The only arrangement for the outlets that has any chance of 
being satisfactory over a reasonable period of time has one about every 
5 ft. in long runs of baseboard and at least one in any length of baseboard, 
however short, that is separated from the remainder by a fireplace, radiator, 
or door. It is an excellent scheme to have several of the living-room outlets 
controlled by a switch located on the wall near one or more of the entrances 
to the living room. This arrangement enables a person entering the room to 
turn on the lamps that are connected to the switch-controlled outlets without 
running the risk of falling over furniture in an attempt to reach a lamp in 
a dark room. 

If you plan to have a mantel wide enough to hold small lamps or an elec- 
tric clock, you will find it a great convenience to have an outlet installed 
in the top surface of the mantel or in the wall at one end of it. Outlets should 
also be installed in built-in bookcases of any size. The living-room outlets 
should be connected to two or three circuits rather than to one, so that if 
a short circuit puts one circuit out of commission temporarily, the entire 
room will not be plunged into darkness. 



Dining Rooms 

Xhe dining room is another part of the house that was once considered 
indispensable but is now sometimes omitted in the planning of new houses. 
Space for informal meals such as breakfast is set aside in the kitchen, often 
in the form of a breakfast nook or bar, and room for a dining table is pro- 
vided in the living room. Either the living room and dining room are frankly 
combined, with one end of the combination room arranged for dining, or the 
room is built in the shape of an L, with the dining-room portion partly con- 
cealed in the toe of the L. The disadvantages of such an arrangement are 
many. If guests are being entertained in the living room while dinner is 
being placed on the table, some means of isolating the room is more than a 
convenience — it is hospitality, also, since it saves the guests from observing 
the stress and strain that go into the preparation of their meal. Even the 
most elaborate curtains or folding partitions designed to accomplish a 
temporary isolation of the dining-room table cut off vision only. They do 
not keep the noise and bustle of table setting from the living-room area. 
Unless the dining-room portion is designed primarily as a dining room, it 
is difficult to provide adequate and convenient storage space for dishes, 
silverware, and table linen. Another disadvantage is the loss of the dining 
room and its sturdy table as a center for other activities besides dining. 
Anyone who has grown up in a family where the old-fashioned round dining 
table served not only as a place to eat but also as a place to study, read, 
play games, and sew does not need to be convinced of the multifarious utility 
of the dining room in the life of the typical American family. 

Dining rooms are omitted in new houses in order to save money. You 
may have to leave the dining room out of your remodeled house for the 
same reason. Perhaps in order to get a living room of satisfactory size you 
must throw the, old living room and dining room together, leaving no other 
room that can be converted to a dining room. Perhaps you must use the 
old dining room for a kitchen or a bathroom. If there is a good reason of 
this nature, you will do well to consider the idea of a combination dining 
room and living room. The dining area of the room should be located so 



New Houses from Old 

that it is convenient to the kitchen; and if good luck is on your side, this 
will be the end of the room that is least important from the viewpoint of 
the light and view necessary in the living-room area. It should be finished 
and decorated in a manner to harmonize with the rest of the room (Fig. 
7.1), and it should be large enough to accommodate the furniture that you 
plan to put in it. The furniture itself should be selected to harmonize with 
the entire room, so that the combination room will have the appearance of 
a well-planned single unit rather than two distinct rooms with the partition 
left out. However, one of the fortunate things about remodeling is that there 
is usually adequate space for dining rooms and, also, for other parts of the 
house that would have to be omitted if you were spending the same amount 
of money for a new house. 

-.*/ - 



(Courtesy Charles O. Matcham, architect.) 

Fig. 7.1. — Here, the dining-room part of the combination living and dining room 
has been placed in a large recessed window, but the room has been treated as a 
single unit. 

The right dimensions for the dining room depend somewhat on the size 
of your family and also on the number of guests who may sit down at the 
table with you. Another factor that may figure in the size of the dining room 
is the dining-room furniture that you already have. If you intend to keep 
it in your remodeled home, you will, of course, have to have a room large 
enough to accommodate it. About the minimum area for a dining room is 

Dining Rooms 


indicated in Fig. 7.2, which shows a floor plan of a small dining room. Such 
a dining room would suit a family of four, and two guests could be squeezed 
into it occasionally. 






Fig. 7.2. — A dining room of minimum size. 

The dining room should be located so that it is convenient to the kitchen 
for obvious reasons. It should be more or less isolated from the living room, 
if such isolation is possible. It adds to the pleasantness of a dining room if 
the windows look out on a garden or on some other scene of beauty; but 
because this room is used primarily for eating when supposedly the atten- 
tion of the persons present is focused on the food and the conversation, it is 
not very important to select the room's location in order to obtain a view, 
nor do the windows need to be planned to admit large amounts of daylight. 
Enough window area so that the room will have a pleasing aspect in the 
daytime is sufficient. If you are installing windows in the dining room, you 
may wish to plan their location so that the sideboard and china closet can 
be placed where you want them without obstructing windows. Usually, how- 
ever, the location of the windows will be determined by the fenestration of 
the entire house. 

Adequate artificial light in the dining room is much more important than 
daylight since the more formal use of this room in the average family comes 
at night. The central chandelier over the dining-room table still holds its 
own. It should be selected not only from the viewpoint of providing ade- 
quate light but also from the viewpoint of its suitability to the room. The 
central fixture should be controlled by two three-way wall switches, one of 
them located on the kitchen side of the swinging door that gives entrance to 
the dining room and the other one located near the other entrance to the 
dining room. The switch at the swinging door should be equipped with 
one of the small pilot lights that shows when it is turned on. 

74 New Houses from Old 

Adequate convenience outlets are also important. An outlet can be pro- 
vided in the center of the floor under the table for electrical appliances that 
will be used on the dining-room table, but such an outlet is inconvenient to 
reach and it requires the cutting of a hole in the rug if the dining-room 
floor is covered with a rug. A more convenient location for this outlet is the 
chandelier over the table. The outlet can take the form of a receptacle at the 
end of a flexible cord attached to the chandelier wiring, or a receptacle 
can be provided in the chandelier itself to which appliance cords can be 
attached with a little reaching. The rigging of such an outlet must usually 
be custom made on the spot by an electrician. If possible, this outlet for ap- 
pliances should be attached to a separate circuit from the dining-room light- 
ing. If a separate circuit cannot be arranged, an appliance circuit (Chapter 
29) should be run to the dining-room ceiling light. 

Since some appliances are used at the serving table, multiple outlets should 
be provided either in the baseboard or in the wall where the serving table 
will be placed. If you plan to use small lamps on your sideboard, do not 
forget to include outlets for them in the baseboard. Baseboard outlets should 
also be provided for the attachment of the vacuum cleaner. 




In colonial times and later, the kitchen was the center of the home. It 
served as living room, dining room, bathroom, and workshop, as well as 
the room in which the food was prepared. Most of the activities of the family 
except sleeping were carried on in it. In many homes it was the only room 
heated in cold weather. It was not planned for convenience or efficiency. 
Later, as central heating and bathrooms came to be recognized as standard 
home facilities, the kitchen lost some of its utility as a general living room. 
Nevertheless, it retained its old spaciousness and haphazard arrangement, 
both of which were ill suited to its true function — a center for the prepara- 
tion of food. 

Only in the last two or three decades have architects, manufacturers of 
kitchen appliances, and experts in domestic economy begun to investigate 
the kitchen from the viewpoint of efficiency. From these investigations has 
come a real revolution in kitchen equipment and kitchen planning. 

The modern kitchen is an attractive, cheerful room, easy to keep clean, 
convenient to work in, and furnished with efficient appliances. Except for the 
installation of a bathroom in a house that has none, no room in the house 
gives more return for money spent on well-planned remodeling. 

Basic Principles of Kitchen Planning 

The published material on kitchens is voluminous. There is practically 
no end to the special arrangements and refinements that can be worked out 
for kitchens. If you are remodeling for your own use, it may pay you well 
to read extensively before you put your kitchen plan on paper. However, the 
basic principles that govern good kitchen planning can be very simply 

The kitchen should be organized into three main work areas, usually 
called the food-storage, preparation and cleaning, and cooking centers. 
These centers are built around the three principal pieces of kitchen equip- 
ment. The heart of the food-storage center is the refrigerator. Grouped above 



New Houses from Old 

and around it are cabinets for the storage of packaged foods and of vege- 
tables that do not require refrigeration. Adjoining this area is the prepara- 
tion and cleaning center, designed around the sink. It includes a worktable 
or its equivalent in the form of cabinet tops or counters. Space is provided 
in this center for the food mixer, food chopper, and any other bulky equip- 
ment that will be used frequently in food preparation. If extreme neatness is 
desired, small compartments with doors can be designed to conceal such 
equipment when it is not in use. Cabinets and drawers for the storage of 
pots and pans and kitchen cutlery are located here. The cooking center is 
built around the range, with storage in the form of cabinets and shelves for 
dishes that will be used in the serving of food. These three centers should 
adjoin if such an arrangement is possible. If their continuity must be broken, 
by all means keep the food-storage center and the preparation and cleaning 
center adjacent to one another. The cooking center can be separated if neces- 
sary, but obviously it should not be too far from the preparation and clean- 
ino; center. 

{Courtesy Douglas Fir Plyivood Association.) 

Fig. 8.1. — A small U-shaped kitchen in a remodeled house. The attractive cabinets 
were custom made of plywood. 



(Courtesy Edison General Electric Appliance Company, Inc.) 

Fig. 8.2. — The U shape applied to another remodeled kitchen. Notice the use of 
wood paneling on one wall. 

The sequence — food-storage center, preparation and cleaning center, and 
cooking center — -should be kept firmly in mind during the kitchen planning. 
If the shape of the room permits, these areas or centers should take the 
shape of a large U. The U type (Figs. 8.1 and 8.2) requires the least amount 
of walking in doing the kitchen work. As the U is straightened out, somewhat 
more walking is required. Arrangement in the shape of an L is second best, 
and a straight-in-line arrangement of the three centers is third. Kitchens with 
the work centers arranged along two parallel walls (Fig. 8.3) are also effi- 
cient, provided that the walls are not too far apart. The distance from the 
front edges of the equipment on one side to the front edges of the equipment 
on the opposite side should be about 4 ft. When the shape of the room does 
not permit the work areas to be arranged as a U, L, or along parallel walls, 
an efficient kitchen can still be managed if the three work areas and the 
sequence of operations in them are used as the basis of the plan. Three 
efficient kitchen arrangements applicable to many cases of remodeling are 
illustrated in Fig. 8.4. 

Kitchen location. In remodeling, it is often necessary to use the same room 
for the kitchen. When this is the case, it may not be possible to relocate 
windows without disturbing the exterior architecture of the house or to re- 
locate doors without running into considerable expense. Nevertheless, it is 


New Houses from Old 

{Courtesy General Electric Company.) 

Fig. 8.3. — The corridor type of kitchen is efficient if it is not too large and if the 
plan of the house does not make it a traffic artery. Here concealed lights at the 
work centers supplement the light from the fluorescent ceiling fixture. 

well to consider the ideal location of the kitchen before remodeling is started 
and to determine whether relocation is desirable and whether it is feasible 
within your budget. 

The kitchen should be isolated from the living room, because it is not 
possible even in the best-managed kitchens to do cooking and dishwashine; 
without creating noise, nor is it possible to keep down undesirable cooking 
odors entirely. Even with insulated ranges and good ventilation there will 
be excess heating in the kitchen in the summertime, which will not be wel- 
come in other parts of the house. A kitchen that is ideally isolated from 
the rest of the house is illustrated in Fig. 5.1. The kitchen should certainly 



be located so that it will not be a traffic artery to other parts of the house. 
Avoid placing it where it must be passed through to reach the main part 
of the house from the back entrance. 

In well-lighted kitchens daylight enters from two directions, hence a 
corner location is ideal. A corner that has north and east exposures provides 
the best daylight for kitchen purposes, because the kitchen is cheerfully 
lighted in the morning before the sun is too warm and is not subject to the 
direct rays of the sun during the hottest part of the day. Where a southern 
exposure cannot be avoided, a shade tree or an awning may serve to cut off 
the direct rays of the sun. 

If coal or wood is to be used as fuel in the kitchen, the room must have a 
chimney, hence the position of a suitable chimney may be the determining 
factor in the location of the kitchen. 

Kitchen dimensions. The ideal size of the kitchen will depend on the size 
of the family and the uses to which the kitchen will be put. The kitchen 







18'- 6" X II'- 0" 

Fig. 8.4. — Good kitchen arrangements for {A) a large room, (B) a medium-sized 
room, and (C) a narrow room. 

80 New Houses from Old 

may be used for food preparation and dishwashing only; or it may have 
to serve, also, as the laundry and, in some cases, the sewing room. A floor 
area, including the space occupied by equipment and cupboards, of 100 to 
150 sq. ft. is considered adequate for the average small and medium-sized 

Kitchens in old houses are often huge when judged by modern standards. 
Their spaciousness reflects the many types of activities carried on in the 
kitchen in the days when the houses were originally built. So large are 
some of these kitchens that in remodeling they are sometimes converted into 
living rooms. When they are retained as kitchens, their area is often reduced. 
But guard against making the kitchen in a country or suburban home too 
small. City dwellers who are used to cramped apartment kitchens and 
kitchenettes sometimes fail to foresee the need of a generous-sized room for 
the kitchen. A large kitchen, if widely spaced work areas can be avoided, 
is often a great convenience, because the kitchen can still be put to many 
uses besides food preparation and dishwashing. One corner can often be used 
for the laundry. A small play area for young children, somewhat separated 
from the working centers, is a convenience for mothers who do their own 
housework. A common way to use the extra space is to convert it into a 
breakfast and informal dining nook. A planning or management center with 
a desk and files for household accounts is another good use. This is not a 
plea for building a large kitchen, although you should certainly plan a 
large kitchen if you want one; rather take it as a warning against too hasty 
partitioning of a spacious old room. 

Windows. A traditional place for a main window in the kitchen is over 
the sink. This location has many advantages if it will not expose the house- 
wife to the direct glare of the sun during the greater part of the day. Perhaps 
the ideal arrangement for daylight is a window over the sink and another 
over the adjacent work center. If the wall containing the sink faces south, 
the window over the sink may be omitted, provided that there is a window 
in the work center at right angles to the sink. However, the main kitchen 
window must be over the sink or over the adjoining work center. The main 
window should look out over a pleasant scene, such as a flower garden or 
a well-kept lawn. Young mothers often prefer to have it look out over the 
children's play area. If possible, more than one window should be provided 
in the kitchen, and the second window should be located so that it provides 
cross ventilation. 

It is best to avoid a window location so close to the range that there will 
be a breeze blowing over the cooking when the window is open. This is par- 
ticularly important if gas is used for cooking, as a strong breeze that might 
blow out the flame is a serious accident hazard. In remodeling, it is often 

Kitchens 81 

desirable to replace the original long windows with shorter ones that will 
fit neatly over the kitchen sink and work counters. Sometimes it is necessary 
to relocate the kitchen in a house being remodeled so that the window sizes 
can be changed without creating a bad architectural effect. 

Doors. Most old kitchens have too many doors (Fig. 6.1). Doors not 
only use wall space that will be needed for kitchen equipment, but if they 
open inward to the kitchen, they constitute accident hazards. In a well- 
located U-shaped kitchen, only one door is necessary. However, most kitchens 
must have two doors, one leading directly, or via a short hall, to the back 
entrance of the house and one leading to the dining room. 

The amount of broken dishes caused by swinging doors since their in- 
vention must be enormous. Nevertheless, to date no one has worked out a 
more convenient closure for the opening between the dining room and the 
kitchen. If possible, plan the location of the swinging door so that there 
will be room to step away from it when it is pushed from the opposite side 
unexpectedly. Also, the door should be located so that in swinging it will 
not interfere with any of the work centers in the kitchen. 


The separate pantry adjoining the kitchen was a standard fixture in most 
old houses. It was used for food storage, and its ancient, spicy odor was 
some compensation for its inconvenience and unsanitariness. Although the 
refrigerator and storage cabinets located in the kitchen itself took its place 
many years ago, the pantry will still be found in most houses that will be 
remodeled. It is still installed occasionally in new or in newly remodeled 
houses. Nevertheless, it is seldom that it can be retained in its original func- 
tion without some loss of efficiency in the kitchen. The space can usually 
be better utilized as a half bathroom, a breakfast nook, a supplementary 
kitchen for the preparation of cold foods and drinks, or a hall to the dining 

Kitchen Equipment 

A wide variety of kitchen equipment is now offered by many manufac- 
turers. You may draw up a general plan for your remodeled kitchen and 
put the selection of the actual equipment in the hands of an expert, or you 
may read dealers' catalogues and visit showrooms yourself. Either method 
should give good results if you have made a good plan within the limits of 
your budget. The main characteristics of modern equipment are that it is 
attractive, finished with materials that are easily kept clean, and functional 

82 New Houses from Old 

in design. If you are remodeling for your own use, you will want to select 
equipment especially suited to the needs of yourself and your family. 

This personal tailoring of the equipment, as it may be called, is par- 
ticularly important in choosing sink and counter heights. In modern kitchens, 
unless instructions are given to the man who does the installation, the sink 
will probably be hung so that its drainboard is 36 in. from the floor. This 
is the height that has been arrived at through experience as the best for 
women of average height who do their work at the sink standing up. You 
may be shorter or taller than average, or you may prefer to sit down as you 
work at the sink; therefore, the average height may not be suited to you. 
The same remarks apply to the height of work counters and work tables. 
Many stock cabinets with counter tops are designed to be set on wooden 
bases. Consequently, their height can be suited to you by a carpenter who 
constructs the bases. Some housewives prefer a pull-out pastry board; others 
prefer to roll pastry on a counter top. Many cooks swear by the electric 
percolator; others prefer coffee-making equipment that is used at the range. 
All such details should be taken into account in planning and selecting the 
equipment for the remodeled kitchen, if the remodeling is for your personal 

Sinks. The older kitchen sink was a black cast-iron affair, constructed 
without back or legs so that it was necessary to box it in with a wooden 
cabinet. Because the joint between the sink and cabinet was not sealed with 
waterproof material, the old-style cabinet soon became soggy and unsanitary. 
These decayed wooden sink enclosures are often found in rural homes, and 
one of the first steps in remodeling is to tear them out and burn them. The 
modern cabinet sink (Figs. 8.1 to 8.3) is a reversion to the old idea, but 
with a difference. The cabinet may be made of wood or of metal, but in 
either case it has a waterproof top, and the joints between the sink basin 
and the top are made watertight so that the cabinet below remains sanitary. 
These new sinks have only one fault — ^they are expensive. In many cases of re- 
modeling, the outlay for such a kitchen, as is illustrated in Fig. 8.2, 
cannot be afforded. Less costly types of sinks are shown in Fig. 8.5. All 
of these sinks, including those with legs, are supported completely or par- 
tially by a concealed wall bracket, whereas cabinet sinks are supported by 
the floor. A cabinet sink is therefore somewhat easier to install in remodel- 
ing. Sinks are also offered in combination with electric dishwashers. An- 
other combination is a sink and a garbage-disposal unit, the latter being 
a device that grinds the garbage, including bones but not tin cans, so that 
it can be flushed down the drain. 

The most common material for sinks now manufactured is cast iron with 
fused-on porcelain enamel. Two varieties of enamel are available — the ordi- 



nary type, which is easily cleaned but which has the disadvantage of losing 
its gloss under the attack of such acids as vinegar and lemon juice, and the 
acid-resisting type, which has all of the good qualities of the ordinary type 
plus the virtue of not deteriorating when weak acids are spilled on it. Acid- 
resisting enamel is somewhat more expensive. Some sinks are made of 
stamped steel with a fused-on porcelain finish. Sinks are also made of such 
materials as stainless steel and Monel metal, an alloy of nickel and copper. 
These materials are relatively expensive, but they cannot be chipped and they 
retain their attractive appearance indefinitely. 


D E 

Fig. 8.5. — Sinks such as these cannot compete in attractiveness with modern cabi- 
net sinks, but they are used in many instances of remodeling on limited budgets. 
A. Roll-rim sink. B. Apron sink. C. Roll-rim single-drainboard sink. D. Double- 
drainboard apron sink. E. Combination apron sink and laundry tub. 

In the least expensive installations, separate faucets are provided for the 
hot and cold water, but most housewives prefer the combination type of 
faucet with a single spout (Fig. 8.6). Combination faucets are made to fit 


New Houses from Old 

all styles of sinks. They should not be used, however, to convey both 
cistern water and drinking water, because so used they form a dangerous 
cross connection (Chapter 26). The least costly type of strainer is set flush 
with the sink bottom and is a nuisance to clean. The basket, or cup, type 
is just a little more expensive and is much more convenient. Practically all 
manufacturers of sink fittings now produce them in chromium plate. Good- 
quality sink fittings should be purchased, as they are subject to many cor- 
rosive substances. 

Fig. 8.6. — Typical combination faucets (A to C) 
strainer (D) with stopper. 

used on sinks, and a basket 

Ranges. The kind of fuel that will be used for cooking is the first con- 
sideration in selecting a range for the remodeled kitchen. Gas or electric 
ranges are usually chosen when these fuels are available from a public- 
utility company. Ranges that use bottled gas are independent of city mains, 
since the gas is delivered to the home in steel containers by a service com- 
pany. Coal- or wood-burning ranges are used in some rural homes, even 
when electricity is available, because of the lower cost of the fuel and also 
because a coal- or wood-burning cookstove can do double duty as a heating 
stove in cold weather. All of these types of ranges are available in clean, 
modern designs and finishes that harmonize with other kitchen equipment. 
However, the cheaper ranges are usually not available in designs that extend 
to the floor. Ranges with insulated ovens generally do more even baking, 
and they do not heat up the kitchen in hot weather so much as an unin- 
sulated range will. 

Porcelain-enamel and chromium plating are standard finishes for all 
types of modern ranges, including those that burn coal or wood, although 

Kitchens 85 

some of the lower-priced ranges are still finished in black. Thermostatic 
controls for oven temperatures and time switches for the automatic starting 
and stopping of cooking are worth their extra cost when they can be af- 
forded. Although it is theoretically possible to build the insulated range 
so that it can be set close to the wall, most present-day ranges should be set 
out a few inches. The recommended distance for an uninsulated range is 6 in. 
and for a fully insulated range 3 in. Tops which are somewhat deeper than 
the main body of the range and which therefore automatically provide this 
spacing from the wall are features of most of the modern ranges. The same 
distances should be observed at the sides of the range if inflammable ma- 
terial, such as wood, is used in the adjoining cabinets or equipment. It will 
be well before the kitchen planning has progressed far to select the range 
that will be used and to get its exact dimensions from the manufacturer or 
retailer. Whatever the model of range, the kitchen should be planned so 
that there will be plenty of room to open the oven doors and to draw out 
sliding racks and broiler pans. 

Refrigerators. Current types of mechanical refrigerators are powered by 
kerosene, gas, or electricity. Electricity- or gas-operated refrigerators are 
now chosen for most homes located where electricity or gas is available from 
public-utility companies. Electric refrigerators are also available for opera- 
tion from farm lighting plants. Refrigerators that can be operated with 
bottled gas or kerosene have brought mechanical refrigeration even to homes 
where electricity is not available. 

Refrigerators are rated according to the amount of storage space inside. 
A 5- or 6-cu.-ft. model is considered adequate for the average family of 
three to five persons. Larger capacities are necessary for larger families. A 
relatively new development is the provision of a low-temperature compart- 
ment within the refrigerator for the storage of frozen foods. This cuts down 
the storage space available for foods kept at ordinary refrigerator tempera- 
tures. Hence, if you select a refrigerator of this type, it may be wise to 
choose one of a somewhat larger capacity. Refrigerator doors open either to 
the right or to the left. In most kitchens where the preparation and cleaning 
center is adjacent to the storage center, which includes the refrigerator, the 
opening should be toward the preparation and cleaning center, as the re- 
frigerator will most often be approached from this side. 

Gas-fired refrigerators are offered in two types, one that requires water 
to cool the condenser and another in which the cooling is done by air. 
The air-cooled type is usually selected, but in some rural homes where there 
is a free supply of gravity-fed spring water, the water-cooled type might be 
preferred, as it discharges less heat into the kitchen. 

In some localities, especially rural ones, refrigerators that require ice will 

86 New Houses from Old 

still be selected for the remodeled home. Modern types of ice refrigerators 
are available in styles and finishes that rival the styles and finishes of electric 
refrigerators, hence they can be fitted equally well into modern kitchens. 
A special requirement of this type of refrigerator is the drain. In some farm 
homes, a pipe is run through the outer wall and allowed to discharge the 
drain water on the ground. In most cases, however, a connection to the 
plumbing system of the house must be provided. This connection should 
not be made directly, even through a trap, because of the danger of sewer 
gases and bacteria entering the interior of the refrigerator. A safe method 
of making the connection to the house drain is to carry the refrigerator 
drain to the basement, to provide it with a trap, and to discharge this trap 
into a laundry tub or sink, which in turn is connected through its trap to 
the house drain. 

Food freezers. The home food freezer and storage locker is undoubtedly 
on its way to becoming standard equipment, especially in suburban and 
rural homes. Whether the home freezer selected will be kept in the kitchen 
or in some other place, such as the basement or garage, will depend on the 
desires and needs of the family. In rural homes where exceptionally large 
frozen-food units are desirable this piece of equipment will probably be 
kept in some other room than the kitchen. In city and suburban homes the 
kitchen is a convenient place for it, and many manufacturers are already 
offering frozen-food storage units in styles and finishes that match other 
modern kitchen equipment. Most models now on the market are shaped like 
chests and have top openings, but some models which have front-opening 
doors and which look much like the usual refrigerator are available. The 
main point in connection with the food freezer is that of planning space 
for it where it will be accessible and still will not interfere with other kitchen 

Cabinets and shelves. Modern kitchens are generously furnished with 
cabinets and shelves. Steel cabinets in suitable, easily cleaned finishes are 
available in a number of stock sizes from manufacturers. Kitchens can be 
planned to utilize these stock cabinets, or cabinets can be built to fit the 
individual kitchen. Special attention should be paid to selecting cabinets 
that can be hung so that at least the two lower shelves will be easily within 
the housewife's reach. Standard cabinet sizes are indicated in Fig. 11.8. At 
least one cabinet or compartment should be designed for tall articles, such 
as brooms, mops, and vacuum cleaners, unless storage space for these im- 
plements is provided elsewhere in the house. Do not make the mistake of 
providing only cabinets with doors. Open shelves have an equally important 
place in modern kitchens, and a few of them are particularly needed near 
the sink and near the range. 

Kitchens 87 

Other accessories. Towel racks or towel driers should be provided near the 
sink. If possible, the towel drier should be a heated one, since germs multiply 
rapidly in a wet towel, especially during the summer months. Several types 
of towel driers that utilize the heat of the kitchen radiator are on the market. 
In one recently exhibited demonstration kitchen, the towel drier was ar- 
ranged to utilize the heat discharged by the refrigerator condenser. Although 
not generally available, this type of drier will provide adequate drying heat 
the year round. It may be expected that manufacturers will soon introduce 
additional types of towel driers for the kitchen that will function inde- 
pendently of the heating system. 

Other accessories that may be desired are a built-in rack for the drying 
of small lots of laundry and a built-in ironing board. A shelf for cookbooks 
is an attractive and convenient feature. Unless a garbage-disposal unit is to 
be installed in connection with the sink, a place should be planned for the 
garbage pail. Wastebaskets or bins for tin cans and wastepaper should not 
be overlooked. These last three items should be located at the sink or near 
it in the preparation and cleaning center. Since most kitchens will have top 
shelves that cannot be reached from the floor, a stepladder stool is an essen- 
tial piece of equipment. Since it is not convenient to store it in the open, 
where it may be stumbled over, storage space should be provided for it in a 

Farts and ventilation. As has been mentioned, chimneys must be provided 
for stoves that burn coal or wood, and in some localities chimneys or suit- 
able flues are required for ranges that burn gas. A coal- or wood-burning 
range requires a well-built chimney. A gas range can sometimes be pro- 
vided with a less expensive flue that can be built directly into a frame wall. 
Whether a flue is required or not, a canopy over the range and connected to 
a flue or outdoor vent will help to prevent the spread of kitchen odors 
through the house and to keep down the heat and humidity in the summer- 
time. This canopy should not be connected to a flue that serves any other 
equipment that burns fuel. 

Another aid to good kitchen ventilation is an electric ventilating fan. Such 
a fan operates more satisfactorily and presents a neater appearance when 
it is built into a wall. However, styles are available that can be fitted into 
kitchen windows. In a kitchen where a ventilating fan is not provided, a 
portable electric fan will be appreciated in hot weather. An oscillating fan 
mounted on the wall is a good type for kitchen use as it is always out of 
the way. In locating electric fans, as in locating windows, care should be 
taken to place them where they will not blow out the flame at the cooking 

88 New Houses for Old 

Kitchen Floors 

The kitchen floor should be covered with an attractive, durable type of 
flooring material, such as inlaid linoleum, rubber tile, or asphalt tile (Chap- 
ter 22). Cheap materials should be avoided, as the kitchen floor is subject 
to an excessive amount of wear. A special point in connection with kitchen 
flooring is that it should extend over the entire floor area and should be 
curved up into the toe space at the front of built-to-the-floor kitchen equip- 
ment. If a range or other equipment that stands on legs is used, the floor 
covering should extend under it; otherwise, there will be a space that will 
be difficult to keep clean. 

Walls and Ceilings 

In a modern kitchen furnished with cabinets and built-in equipment, there 
may not be much exposed wall area. However, the wall area that is exposed 
is usually treated with some waterproof material. Ceramic tile is a highlv 
suitable material if it can be afforded. Porcelain-coated metal tiling is also 
good. Colored glass is available in stock sheets for installation behind the 
kitchen range. When none of these materials can be used, water-resistant 
wallpapers or paints can be used over plaster or wallboard. Papers and paints 
that are not water resistant should be avoided. However, so many types of 
materials can be made water resistant that as much variety can be achieved 
on kitchen walls as on the walls of other rooms in the house. Observe, for 
example, the wall treatment of the kitchen shown in Fig 8.2, where knotty 
pine was used to finish one wall. 

Some homeowners will wish to insulate the kitchen acoustically. In exten- 
sive remodeling, this can be done by providing sound insulation in the 
partitions (Chapter 25). Acoustical sheeting or tile on the kitchen ceiling 
will also help to subdue the usual kitchen clatter. 


The kitchen lighting requires special attention. Many old kitchens have 
only one light in the center, and too often this is controlled by a pull chain. 
The center lighting fixture is desirable in the modern kitchen, but it should 
be controlled by wall switches. If there are two doors to the kitchen, there 
should be a controlling switch of the three-way variety at each door. Addi- 
tional lighting of some glareless type should be provided at each of the 
work areas. If the work areas have cabinets mounted over them, the bottom 

Kitchens 89 

sides of the cabinets provide convenient places for the mounting of the 
fixtures for fluorescent lighting. Good types of lighting fixtures for kitchens 
can be seen in several of the kitchen pictures in this chapter, and more are 
illustrated in Fig. 29.23. 

Electrical Outlets 

The need for including an adequate number of electrical outlets in the 
kitchen can be made evident by considering the following undoubtedly in- 
complete list of electrical devices now on the market that can be used in 
the kitchen. 


Bottle sterilizers Ice-cream freezers 

Churns Irons 

Clocks Portable heaters 

Coffee percolators Portable stoves, grills, and ovens 

Drink mixers Radios 

Egg cookers Sewing machines 

Fans Toasters 

Floor polishers Ultraviolet-ray lamps 

Food mixers Vacuum cleaners 

Food and plate warmers Waffle irons 

Fruit-juice extractors Washing machines 

Germicidal lamps 


Dishwashers Ranges 

Garbage-disposal units Refrigerators 

Ironers Washing machines (automatic) 

Water heaters 

The equipment listed in Group A usually operates on the standard cur- 
rent of about 110 volts. A 220-volt current is required for electric ranges 
and water heaters, and there is a tendency to design some of the other 
equipment listed in Group B for the higher voltage. Whatever voltage is 
required for the equipment you select, it is desirable to have separate cir- 
cuits for the types of equipment listed in Group B. Fortunately, since 
kitchens are almost always located on the first floor, adequate wiring (Chap- 
ter 29) is neither so difficult nor so expensive as might be expected. 

A sufficient number of convenience outlets should be included for all of 
the portable electrical equipment that you plan to use and located so that 
long extension cords will not be necessary. It is a good idea to provide one 
double-convenience outlet for every 4 ft. of wall area at the preparation 
and cleaning center. Electric ranges are usually equipped with one or more 


New Houses from Old 

{Courtesy Sylvania Electric Products, Inc.) 

Fig. 8.7. — The breakfast bar is another convenient feature that may be incorporated 
in a large kitchen. Observe also the fluorescent lighting. 

{Courtesy Douglas Fir Plywood Association.} 

Fig. 8.8. — This photograph shows an ingenious arrangement of chairs at the break- 
fast bar. 

Kitchens 91 

convenience outlets. One other convenience outlet on a separate circuit 
should be provided here. In contrast to the location of convenience outlets 
in other rooms in the house, convenience outlets in the kitchen are usually 
installed 3^ or 4 ft. above the floor. 

A Place for Breakfast 

Even in a house with a full-sized dining room, housekeeping is made 
simpler if there is space in the kitchen for breakfast and other informal 
meals. In a remodeled house, the problem is more often one of using an 
available space such as an old pantry or the end of a large kitchen than 
of squeezing a minimum amount of space out of the house plan. The separate 
breakfast nook is a good scheme if an extra room is available near the 
kitchen. The schemes shown in Figs. 8.7 and 8.8 are typical of what can 
be done when the kitchen itself is large. 




J_ HE BATHROOM PROBLEM in remodeling may be that of installing one or 
more bathrooms in a house where there is none, or it may be a case of 
replacing such outmoded affairs as are illustrated in Figs. 9.1 and 9.4. In 
either case, the problem should be approached rationally from the stand- 
point of the amount of money that you can afford to spend. 

How Many Bathrooms? 

One good bathroom in a single-family house is essential for modern 
living. The maximum number for convenience is undoubtedly not reached 
until there is a bathroom for every bedroom and a downstairs powder room 
besides, but there is not much point in including more than the minimum 
number if your budget cannot provide for them without skimping other 
parts of the house. It is well, however, in planning remodeling to decide 
on the bathroom facilities that you want ultimately and to reserve space 
for them in the house. 

A complete bathroom is one that includes a lavatory, a water closet, and 
bathing facilities, either a tub, or a shower, or both. A so-called half bath- 
room has a lavatory and a water closet but lacks the bathing equipment. 
One complete bathroom should be provided, if possible, on each floor where 
there are regularly occupied sleeping rooms. A half bathroom (Fig. 9.6) 
on the first floor saves much running up and down stairs and is practically 
obligatory in the country where there is much washing up to be done when 
members of the family come in from work outdoors. A modern idea par- 
ticularly adaptable to city and suburban homes is to fit up this half bath- 
room with good fixtures and decorations and to use it also as a powder 
room for guests. A private bathroom attached to the master bedroom was 
once almost standard practice in medium-priced modern homes; but in some 
circumstances this may be too exclusive a luxury. Many families find it a 
better arrangement to have two bathrooms on the second floor available to 
the main hallway. In houses where a maid or more servants will live in, 




a separate bath is often provided. An additional water closet in the base- 
ment is frequently installed in suburban homes where gardeners and other 
workmen are hired by the day. 

Location of Bathrooms 

Many considerations enter into the location of bathrooms. If there is an 
old bath in the house, the soil stack will already be installed and in most 
cases it will still be serviceable. Possibly even the supply pipes will be 
usable; although, if they are made of old galvanized iron piping, the chances 
are great that they will be nearly clogged with rust. Whether they are 
clogged or not, it may be wise to install new supply piping if the old 
floors and walls must be opened. Because the soil stack is already installed, 
the old bathroom should be retained as a bathroom if economy is an impor- 
tant consideration. 

In locating new bathrooms, two main considerations should rule — con- 
venience and privacy. Bathrooms should be located so that they can be 
reached from the bedrooms without too much travel. If a bathroom is located 
on the first floor, it should be isolated from the living rooms. If actual 

(Hedrich-Blessing Studio.) 

Fig. 9.1. — Tubs on legs, marble-topped lavatories, and exposed lead pipes charac- 
terize many old-fashioned bathrooms. 


New Houses from Old 

(Hedriph-Blessing Studio.) 
Fig. 9.2. — The bathroom shown in Fig. 9.1 after remodeling. 

Fig. 9.3. — Floor plans of the bathroom shown in Figs. 9.1 and 9.2 before and after 
remodeling. Notice how the fixture locations were changed. 

(^Figs. 9.1 to 9.3, courtesy United States Gypsum Company.) 

Bathrooms 95 

spatial isolation is not possible in the remodeling plan, the bathroom walls 
should be insulated against the passage of sound (Chapter 25). A first-floor 
bathroom should not be located with its window on a much-used porch. 
The half bathroom in a city or suburban residence should be convenient to 
the front entrance hall. In a rural home it is often better to have it adjacent 
to the kitchen. In any case, it should be located where it can be reached 
without traveling through the living room or dining room. Frequently in 
the remodeling of old houses, the location of existing windows will deter- 
mine the location of bathrooms. A new bathroom window, especially if it 
must be of the usual narrow type, may be a jarring note in the harmony 
of an interesting old fenestration. 

If there are three bedrooms, and one of them is the master bedroom with 
its own bathroom, the second bathroom is sometimes installed between the 
remaining two bedrooms. This arrangement of two bedrooms with a bath- 
room between is convenient if both bedrooms are occupied by members of 
the family or if there is an invalid in the house attended by a resident 
nurse. It is not so convenient if one bedroom is used as a guest room. It is 
also an excellent arrangement for the nursery and the parents' room. 

The usual arrangement for the second bathroom is, of course, along a 
main hall with the door opening from it. If only one bathroom can be 
afforded, it should be located where access will be convenient from all of 
the bedrooms. Although in many old houses the bathroom is located at the 
head of the stairs on the second floor, this is a bad arrangement, particu- 
larly if there is a straight view from the hall on the first floor. 

A considerable point is often made of locating bathrooms so that a single 
stack will serve for all of the plumbing facilities, including the kitchen sink. 
Where there is only one bathroom, it is placed adjacent to or over the 
kitchen. When two bathrooms are included in the plans, both are placed in 
adjacent rooms over the kitchen. The amount that can be saved by planning 
the location of all bathroom and washing facilities so that they can be 
connected to a single soil stack is seldom over $200. Most homeowners will 
wish to save this amount if they can, but it is hardly enough to justify 
inconvenient locations for either the bathrooms or the kitchen. 

Design of Bathrooms 

Occasionally an old bathroom can be modernized by the mere installa- 
tion of new fixtures. When this is done, a large amount of breaking into 
the floor and walls can usually be avoided by placing the new fixtures sub- 
stantially where the old ones were. More often modernization demands a 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 9.4. — A typical middle-aged bathroom. Before. 

Fig. 9.5. — After. Note how the extra space is utilized for a dressing table and how 
the floors and walls have been modernized by covering them with linoleum. 

{Figs. 9.4 and 9.S, courtesy Nairn Linoleum Company.) 



(.Hedrich-Blessing Studio. Courtesy United States Gypsum Company.') 

Fig. 9.6. — A first-floor powder room such as this one is not prohibitively expensive. 
Notice the combination of wallpaper and gypsum-board tile (Sheetrock). 

rearrangement of fixtures (Fig. 9.3), and this creates an opportunity for 
a new plan for the room and modernization of the old piping. 

In planning a new bathroom, particular attention should be given to the 
location of the window or windows. Preferably, none of the three main 
fixtures should be placed under the window. If possible, the window should 
be located in relation to the lavatory, but at the side of it rather than 
above it. The ideal window arrangement is undoubtedly a pair of windows, 
one placed on each side of the lavatory. However, this ideal is often difficult 
to attain for architectural and structural reasons. A mirror rather than a 
window is needed directly over the lavatory. Privacy demands that the 
window not be directly over or beside the water closet, particularly in bath- 
rooms located on the first floor. However, when such a location cannot be 
avoided, the window may be placed high up in the wall over the water 

98 New Houses from Old 

closet, provided that the soil stack does not pass through that wall. The 
same reason argues against placing the window in the shower compartment 
or over the bathtub in which a shower may be installed sooner or later; 
also, a curtained window does not make a good wall for a shower bath. 
When it is impossible to avoid locating the window over the tub, the curtain 
problem can be solved by using opaque or translucent waterproof material 
and by arranging the curtain so that it can be drawn completely over the 
window so that it will shed water as well as cut off vision. 

Partitioned bathrooms with the water closet and sometimes a lavatory 
in a separate compartment make it possible for two persons to use simul- 
taneously and in privacy the bathing or the toilet facilities. However, sepa- 
rate lighting must be provided for each compartment, and in most localities 
the building code will require a separate window for each one. Therefore, 
don't include a divided bathroom in your remodeling plan unless the two 
windows set together will fit into the exterior architecture of your house. 
In some localities, a window may not be required by the code for a room 
that includes only a lavatory or a lavatory and a bathtub. 

An idea that is more often applicable in redesigning an old bathroom, 
especially if it is a large one, is the partitioning off of part of it for a 
dressing room. A separate window in the dressing room should be provided 
if it is practicable, but the building code is not so likely to require it if 
the room is devoid of plumbing fixtures. Unless you prefer small bath- 
rooms, do not decide to divide an old, spacious room (Figs. 9.4 and 9.5) 
until you have considered whether you prefer a bathroom that will accom- 
modate a bath stool or a chair and a dressing table in addition to the usual 
bathroom fixtures. Several bathroom plans are shown in Fig. 9.7. The bath- 
rooms in the plans shown in Chapter 2 should also be studied. 

Bathroom Fixtures and Fittings 

Bathtubs. The varieties and shapes of bathtubs are legion. If you need 
an unusual style or wish to have something out of the ordinary, you will 
profit by poring through manufacturers' catalogues and by visiting show- 
rooms in the larger cities. Only the usual types will be discussed here. 
The cast-iron tub on legs (Fig. 9.1), once as standard as the Model T Ford, 
is still offered for sale. In its most common form, the inside surfaces and 
the roll rim are coated with fused-on porcelain enamel, and the outside is 
painted. Similar tubs on solid bases instead of legs are also available. 
Unless strict economy makes it necessary, it is not advisable to install a 
tub on legs in a new or remodeled bathroom, because such a tub is unsatis- 
factory from an aesthetic standpoint and also because the exposed wall and 




1 — 



Fig. 9.7. — Plans for small bathrooms. A. Divided bath with stall shower. B. Half 
bathroom. C. Bathroom with recessed oblong tub. D. With recessed square tub. 
E. With recessed tub and stall shower. F. With corner tub. G. With corner tub. 
Small circles in wall indicate best location for soil stack in relation to fixtures. 


New Houses from Old 

floor areas around and under it present a difficult cleaning problem. If it 
is necessary to install such a tub, it is well to place it where a more modern 
tub can be installed at a later date without much change in the drainage 
and supply pipes. 

Modern bathtubs have an apron that extends to the floor (Fig. 9.2) and 
is finished with the same vitreous enamel as the inside of the tub. Corner 
tubs (Fig. 9.8) have two unfinished sides that are set into the wall and two 
finished sides that are exposed. These tubs are available with both right- 
and left-hand corners, the handedness being determined as you face the 
longer exposed side. Recessed tubs have only one finished side, the other 
sides being set into the wall when the tub is installed. In the usual type of 
tub, the basin or bathing compartment runs parallel to the longer axis of 
the tub. The square tub in which the basin runs diagonally is a newer 
development that has gained wide popularity. Corner tubs are the best type 
when the tub must be set along a wall that is about the same length as the 
tub. However, recessed tubs can be placed on a longer wall by constructing 
a compartment for the tub as was done in remodeling the bathroom shown 
in Figs. 9.4 and 9.5 or by building a low cabinet at the end of the tub as 
diagramed in Fig. 9.8. 

Fig. 9.8. — A. Oblong corner tub. B. Square recess tub. C. A recessed tub can be 
placed between a wall and a cabinet with valves and spout at either end. 

Bathrooms 101 

As has been mentioned, corner tubs are either right or left hand as to 
the unrecessed corners. Bathtubs are also right or left hand according to 
the openings for the drain and supply fittings. Since most manufacturers 
supply all of their styles with both right- or left-hand openings, the handed- 
ness of the tub is not important in planning but is quite important in order- 
ing. A right-hand recessed tub cannot be used if piping connections can be 
made only at the left-hand end. 

Most bathtubs now offered for sale are made of cast iron with fused-on 
porcelain enamel, a glasslike material which is easily cleaned and which is 
not subject to the type of deterioration known as crazing. Bathtubs are also 
made of sheet steel with fused-on porcelain as a coating. A few bathtubs 
are made of fired clay coated with a vitreous china glaze. These tubs have 
no metal in them. They are somewhat heavier than porcelain-enameled metal 
tubs, and this consideration alone makes them unsuitable for most instal- 
lations in remodeling. The householder who is considering remodeling may 
be offered what appears to be a bargain in a secondhand clay tub. It is 
best to avoid such bargains. 

Fig. 9.9. — A safe type of supply fixture for bathtubs on legs. 
The spout is elevated above the bathtub rim. 

Bathtub fittings. The tub on legs is usually equipped with a combination 
supply fitting that contains the hot- and cold-water valves and the discharge 
spout. Most of these fittings are hazardous to health because the position 
of the spout makes it possible for dirty water from the tub to enter the 
supply piping (see the discussion of Cross-Connections in Chapter 26). 
To be safe, the fitting in a tub of this type should have an elevated spout 
as shown in Fig. 9.9. The old-style supply fittings that were mounted 
wholly or partly inside recess and corner tubs present the same hazard. 
Present-day practice is to install the hot- and cold-water valves and the 
spout on the wall above one end of the tub. 

Many schemes have been tried for the waste and overflow; but only three 
types have stood the test of time. Of these the familiar chain-and-rubber 
stopper is by far the best in spite of the fact that the rubber stoppers wear 
out and have to be replaced occasionally. This type of waste is sanitary; 
it has no complicated mechanism to get out of order, and it has the great 
advantage in remodeling of not requiring an access panel. 


New Houses from Old 

The so-called standing waste, which in older installations was built into 
the floor beside the tub and was operated by turning or raising a knob that 
stood in a tube about level with the top of the tub, is still used; but now 
it is concealed in the wall and is operated by turning a handle that is 
usually placed between or below the hot- and cold-water valves. This kind 
of waste is somewhat insanitary and sometimes gets out of order, but it is 
still extensively used. It requires an access panel in the wall of the adjoin- 
ing room through which the mechanism can be reached when cleaning and 
adjustment are necessary. 

The pop-up waste, which can be distinguished by the button-shaped disk 
that rises from the drain opening to allow water to flow out of the tub, is 
usually operated by a handle attached to a plate inside the tub. This type 
of waste gets out of order sometimes, and it is a mean thing to stub your 
toe on while using the shower. 

Shower baths. Stall shower baths can be purchased as complete units; or 
the base can be purchased separately and a compartment built with walls 
of tile or other waterproof material. Stall showers can have a single shower 
head, or they can have several spray nozzles installed vertically in the sides 
of the compartment. More often, the shower bath is installed in conjunction 
with the bathtub. When the shower is installed over a tub, a single nozzle 
or head is used. 



Fig. 9.10. — Shower fixture with exposed valves and piping sometimes used to save 
cutting of the wall. 

Several arrangements are possible for the shower valves, the least ex- 
pensive being separate hot- and cold-water valves. This arrangement has 
the disadvantage of requiring the bather to adjust the temperature of his 
bath by reaching through or around the spray from the nozzle to get at the 
valves. A number of ingenious devices have been invented to overcome this 
difficulty, and several of them have been thoroughly tested and are on the 



market. One device, called a diverting valve, is arranged so that the water 
may flow through the bathtub nozzle while the hot- and cold-water valves 
are being manipulated to adjust the temperature of the water to the bather's 
desire. Once a satisfactory temperature is reached, the water is diverted 
from the bathtub nozzle to the shower head by turning the diverting valve. 
Another satisfactory, but more expensive, device is a thermostatic valve 
which can be set for the desired water temperature and which will then 
automatically maintain this temperature by mixing the hot and cold water 
in the right proportions. In new construction, and usually also in remodel- 
ing, concealed valves and piping are used when a shower is installed over 
a bathtub; but sometimes it is simpler to use exposed valves and connec- 
tions (Fig. 9.10). Such connections are not unattractive if the exposed fit- 
tings and pipes are chromium plated. 

^^^r-^^ y\ 

C D 

Fig. 9.11. — Lavatories. A. Corner type. 5. Shelf type. C. Pedestal type. B. Leg type. 

Lavatories. Four common types of lavatories are shown in Fig. 9.11. The 
corner lavatory is useful chiefly in small rooms. The shelf type is useful 
and relatively inexpensive. The leg type is attractive and has a quite mod- 


New Houses from Old 

ern look. These three types require wall brackets for support, whereas the 
pedestal type has the advantage of requiring no support at the wall. 

Modern lavatories are usually made of cast iron that is coated with fused- 
on porcelain enamel or of solid vitreous chinaware that is coated with a 
vitreous glaze. Some lavatories are made of sheet steel that is also coated 
with fused-on porcelain enamel. Vitreous china is a highly suitable material 
for lavatories because of its attractiveness, its durability, and the ease with 
which it can be kept clean. Lavatories made of this material are not much 
more costly than those made of other materials. 

Fig. 9.12. — Lavatory fittings. A. Single faucet. B. Combination faucet with plug 
drain stopper. C. Combination faucet with pop-up drain stopper. D. An air gap 
between end of faucet and overflow rim of lavatory is necessary for safe plumbing. 
(See also Fig. 26.18.) 

Lavatory fittings. Many types of fittings are available, ranging from sepa- 
rate faucets for the hot and cold water and a separate chain-and-rubber-stop- 
per waste to quite elaborate combination fixtures. Separate faucets are neces- 
sary if cistern water is used for the hot-water supply and drinking water for 

Bathrooms 105 

the cold-water supply; otherwise the most convenient type of fitting is one 
of the combination types (Figs. 9.6 and 9.12). The chain-and-rubber- 
stopper waste mechanism is simple and inexpensive, but the pop-up is the 
most convenient type of waste mechanism for lavatories and is well worth 
its slight extra cost. The spout of a lavatory faucet or combination fixture 
should terminate at least 1 in. above the level of the flood rim of the lava- 
tory (Fig. 9.12) as a safeguard against contamination of the water supply 
with dirty water. Supply fittings that discharge below the flood rim of the 
lavatory or through an inside passage in the lavatory are serious hazards 
to health and should always be removed in remodeling. Good-quality lava- 
tory fittings should be selected. They should be finished in a good grade of 
chromium plating. Since lavatory traps and supply pipes are usually ex- 
posed to view (Fig. 9.6), these also should be chromium plated. 

Water closets. Water closets (Fig. 9.13) are classified according to the 
type of flushing action. The least expensive closets have a wash-down action. 
The water flows from the tank downward through the flushing rim until 
enough has accumulated to cause the bowl to empty through the siphon. 
This type, although reliable in operation, is somewhat noisy. If a wash- 
down closet has the siphon, or trap, built into the back rather than the 
front, it is called a reverse-trap bowl. Reverse-trap bowls have a somewhat 
better appearance, but their chief advantage is that the area of the standing 
water in the bowl is larger, which aids in keeping the toilet clean. 

The siphon-jet action employs one or, in some makes, two jets in addition 
to the flushing rim. Part of the flushing water is discharged through the jet 
to start the flushing action before the water in the bowl has reached a high 
level. The result is a somewhat quieter flushing operation. Siphon-jet bowls 
also have a large water area. 

The ordinary wash-down closet has no advantage except its somewhat 
lower cost. The reverse-trap wash-down is, however, an excellent type to 
install in remodeling if the bathroom is located where the noise of a flushing 
toilet is not objectionable. Siphon-jet water closets cost somewhat more; 
also, if they are installed in a house that will not be in use in freezing 
weather, special precautions must be taken to empty the jet passages when 
the water closet is drained. 

In the least expensive type of water closet, the tank is a separate unit 
(Fig. 9.13) which must be hung on the wall a short distance above the 
closet bowl and which is connected to the latter with a plated brass elbow. 
Another type of tank, usually called a close-coupled tank, is also a separate 
unit, but it is used with a bowl that supports the tank. Still another type 
has a tank that is made integral with the bowl. The latter two types cost 
somewhat more than the first, but they are easier to install in many remodel- 


New Houses from Old 

ing jobs because the water closet can be placed with the back of the tank 
standing an inch, or several inches, from the wall, if necessary. 

Homeowners are often interested in whether flush valves, which are used 
commonly in water closets in office buildings, cannot also be used in homes. 
The answer is that they can be used if city water is available under good 
pressure and if the connection from the water main to the house is made 
through a pipe of not less than 1 in. nominal internal diameter. In such 
cases a pipe of the same diameter can then be run to the bathroom and the 
flush valve can be connected to it. The expense of doing this is seldom 
justifiable, however, especially since flush valves go out of order about as 
often as toilet-tank mechanisms and are not easy for a homeowner to repair. 
Flush valves should not be considered if the water is supplied by an aver- 
age-size farm water-supply system. 

Fig. 9.13. — A. Washdown closet with wall-hung tank. B. Reverse-trap closet with 
integral tank. C. Siphon-jet closet with close-coupled tank. 

Miscellaneous accessories. In planning your remodeled bathroom, don't 
overlook the small accessories, or the result will be that in a few years the 
room will become cluttered with ill-matched gadgets screwed to the door 
cases and to other places not designed for them. Accessories that should be 
considered include mirrors; medicine cabinets; towel racks; a bar for sup- 
porting the shower curtain; safety grips for the bathtub and shower com- 
partments; soap dishes; hooks for clothing and the enema bag; cabinets 
for the storage of towels, washcloths, and cleaning utensils; holders for 
toilet paper, tumblers, and toothbrushes. 

Bathroom Floors and Walls 

The traditional material for bathroom floors is ceramic tile. This material 
has the advantages of durability, a very high degree of water resistance, 
and — if an attractive design is chosen — beauty. However, it has several dis- 
advantages in remodeling. It adds considerable weight, which the floor may 

Bathrooms 107 

not be designed to carry; if it is installed on top of a wooden floor, there 
is considerable increase in the height of the floor; and its installation is 
not easy, especially for the inexperienced workman. Nevertheless, it can be 
installed if you desire. Installation methods are described in Chapter 22. 
Lighter-weight materials such as linoleum are more adaptable in most re- 
modeling. Linoleum is the flooring material used in the bathrooms shown 
in Figs. 9.2 and 9.5. Whatever material you choose, it should cover the 
floor and be expertly laid; for if the floor is only partially covered, water 
will eventually get between the floor covering and the wooden floor and 
cause mildew and decay. 

Some waterproof material is also desirable for at least the lower portion 
of bathroom walls. Here again, ceramic tile is the standard material, and 
its installation on walls is considerably easier than on floors in remodeling. 
Other suitable water-resistant or waterproof materials for the walls include 
linoleum, tile wallboards, metal that is coated with a fused-on porcelain 
enamel, and plastic wall covering. Most of these materials are manufac- 
tured in designs that give the appearance of ceramic tile; see, for example, 
the tile wallboard on the wall of the half bathroom in Fig. 9.6. Colored glass 
is used as a wall-finishing material in some bathrooms. It is an excellent 
material but has the disadvantage that holes for fixtures, pipes, etc., must 
be cut at the factory. At the moment, transparent and translucent plastic 
materials are being promoted for use in bathrooms. 

How much of the wall should be covered with the tile or other water- 
proof material depends chiefly on the amount of money you wish to spend. 
Even the relatively expensive ceramic tile is sometimes installed from the 
baseboard to the ceiling, but more often it is used only for the lower half 
of the wall. It is advantageous, however, to run the waterproof material to 
the ceiling in shower compartments. In the bathroom shown in Fig. 9.2, tile 
board has been used for the entire wall from the baseboard to the molding 
at the ceiling line; whereas in the room shown in Fig. 9.6, a panel covered 
with wallpaper has been used with tile board. Such combinations can often 
be used to save money and at the same time add to the attractiveness of the 
room. Bathroom wall surfaces can also be painted with a good-quality wash- 
able paint. 

Lighting and Electrical Outlets 

In a small bathroom, say one with an area of not over 60 sq, ft., adequate 
lighting can be provided by a pair of lights, installed one on each side of 
the mirror (Fig. 9.6), but a larger bathroom should also have a lighting 
fixture in the ceiling. If the mirror lights are the only ones, they should be 

108 New Houses from Old 

controlled by a switch mounted on the wall just inside the door. If a ceiling 
light is used, it should be controlled by the wall switch. An enclosed stall 
shower should have a separate ceiling light controlled by a switch mounted 
outside the shower. Pull switches should be avoided whenever possible in 
bathroom lighting fixtures because of the danger of receiving a severe shock 
if the pull chain is touched by a person standing in the tub or on a wet 
floor. When pull switches cannot be avoided, a link of insulating material 
should be placed in the metal chain. 

Convenience outlets for hair curlers, electric razors, sun lamps, etc., should 
be included in the lighting plan. An inexpensive way to provide two such 
outlets is to use lighting fixtures at the mirror that contain outlets. One 
or two additional outlets may be necessary, depending on the plan of the 
bathroom. Since supplementary heat is often needed in bathrooms, especially 
during cool weather when the central heating system is not in operation, 
it is a good idea to include a built-in electric heater in the bathroom plan. 
This will require a special outlet connected to a circuit that is separate 
from the bathroom lights. 




U NLESS A SUBSTANTIAL ADDITION to the existing house is built, good bed- 
room planning is usually a matter of making the most intelligent use of the 
space that is available. In house planning as it is usually done, a bedroom 
is just a bedroom. About the only distinction that is made among the vari- 
ous bedrooms in the plan is to assign the largest one to the head of the 
family and his mate. The other, and usually less spacious, bedrooms are 
then allotted to the other members of the family. This is the inheritance that 
you must deal with in the average house in remodeling. 

Actually, however, there are three types of bedrooms, and bedroom plan- 
ning in remodeling will be more successful if these three types are recog- 
nized and if attention is paid to their special requirements. There is the 
bedroom for adults, which is designed primarily for sleeping. Then there is 
the more spacious and more comfortable room intended for the use of one 
or more adults and designed not only for a sleeping room but for a study 
or private living room as well. In some homes this room is occupied by an 
aged or invalid person; however, it can be equally useful as a combination 
bedroom and living room for parents who wish occasionally to read or to 
talk in their own private quarters or who are forced to give up the main 
living room now and then to their adolescent children and their guests. 
Finally, there are bedrooms for young children. This type includes the 
nursery for infants and bedrooms for boys and girls of school age. Of course, 
there are also sleeping porches and dressing rooms, but neither of these is 
a bedroom in its own right. Exposure to the weather makes it impractical 
to put the full complement of bedroom furniture on the sleeping porch; 
and the dressing room is an annex to a bedroom. 

Average Bedrooms 

The first type of bedroom might be called the average bedroom. It is 
occupied by one or two adults or by one or two children who are nearing 
adulthood, and its main function is to serve as a sleeping room. It need 



New Houses from Old 

(Courtesy Nairn Linoleum Company.') 

Fig. 10.1. — A fireplace in the bedroom is a luxury in new construction, but often 
in remodeling, the fireplace is already present. 

not be very large. If the room will be occupied by an adult man, the neces- 
sary furniture will be a single or three-quarter-sized bed, a chest of drawers, 
a chair or two, and possibly a small desk. An adult woman will need, in 
addition, a dressing table and bench. Two adults will need a full-sized bed 
or twin beds. If it is possible to provide this kind of bedroom with a separate 
dressing room, it can be small indeed, especially if there is room in the 
dressing room for the chest and dressing table. In such a case, the bedroom 
need be large enough only for the bed, one or two chairs, and a desk if 
one is wanted. A single closet of reasonable size will be adequate for one 
adult. Two closets are better if the room is to be occupied by two adults. 

If the room is to be regularly occupied by a member or meinbers of the 
family, it need not be located next to the bath, since an adult who is used 
to the house will be able to find his way to the bathroom, even though it is 
located some distance down the hall. On the other hand, if the room is 
intended mainly for use by guests, it should be fairly close to the bath. 
This type of bedroom should be isolated as much as possible from street 
noise. Isolation from noises that originate within the house is not so impor- 
tant, since adults usually go to bed after activity has ceased in such noisy 
areas of the house as the kitchen and the living room. A pleasant view 

Bedrooms 111 

from the windows is not important, again because the room is used mainly 
at night. Preferably, this type of bedroom should not have an eastern ex- 
posure, because most adults like to sleep late on Sunday mornings, even 
if they are not fortunate enough to be able to do so on other mornings of 
the week. This type of bedroom, the same as other types, should have, if 
possible, windows in at least two walls so that cross ventilation will be pos- 
sible in hot weather. 

Painted or wallpapered walls are the most common in this type of bed- 
room. The important qualities are attractiveness and a fair degree of dura- 
bility. Waterproof wall finishes are not necessary. If economy is essential, 
money can also be saved on the flooring materials, since the floor in such a 
bedroom gets little wear. A good grade of softwood flooring is entirely ade- 
quate. However, it is not desirable to skimp on the space or the finishing 
of this type of bedroom unless you have to do so. If the existing rooms are 
large and if they contain fireplaces, by all means take full advantage of 
their possibilities, as was done in remodeling the bedroom shown in Fig. 10.1. 

The old-fashioned bedroom, if it has electric lighting at all, will usually 
have a single ceiling fixture. The convenience of a ceiling light when it is 
operated by a switch at the door is obvious. This ceiling light should prob- 
ably never be eliminated in remodeling, but it is doubtful whether the in- 
stallation of such a light in remodeling is worth while except in large bed- 
rooms, such as the one shown in Fig. 10.2. About the same degree of con- 
venience can be obtained by wiring one or two baseboard outlets so that 
they are controlled by a switch at the door. Portable lamps plugged into 
these outlets can then be turned on and off as you enter or leave the room. 
Baseboard outlets should be provided for lamps on bedside tables, dressers, 
and dressing tables. The only sure way of having an adequate number is 
to space them so that no point along the baseboard will be more than 6 ft. 
from an outlet. A man who uses an electric razor appreciates having an outlet 
for it installed in the wall near the dresser. If you are going to use either 
an electric heater or a one-room air conditioner in your bedroom, it is 
important to provide an outlet for it, and this outlet should be part of a 
circuit that is separate from the lighting circuit in the bedroom. 

Bed-living Rooms 

The second type of bedroom, the combination bed and living room, must 
be planned as part-time living quarters. If the space is large enough, the 
living-room treatment should predominate in the room's arrangement. A 
separate dressing room is particularly convenient so that the litter and muss 
of dressing and undressing can be kept out of the principal room. 


New Houses from Old 

This room gains considerably in convenience if it has its own private 
bath, which can be reached without passing through the family hallway. 
If a private bath cannot be afforded, the family bath should not be too far 
away, particularly if the room will be living quarters for an aged or invalid 
person. Sometimes a complete private apartment is made out of an old 
bedroom, as was done in the remodeling illustrated in Figs. 10.3 and 10.4. 

Although isolation from street noises adds greatly to the enjoyment of 
such a room, a person who is confined to the room for most of the day 
may appreciate a location that gives a view of the street. A pleasant view 
from the windows will likewise enhance the enjoyment of the room by an 
occupant who spends most of his time in it. However, if the room will be 
occupied by adults who will use it chiefly in the evening and at night, a 
view is not essential. Since this room will be occupied by adults, an eastern 
exposure with early morning sunshine is not desirable. 

There must be more window area than in a bedroom designed only for 
sleeping. The windows should be adequate not only to provide ventilation 
but also to admit enough daylight so that the room will be cheerful and 
attractive in the daytime. Air conditioning is an even greater asset to a 

(Courtesy IVestinghouse Electric Corporation.) 
Fig. 10.2. — Carefully planned lighting characterizes this bedroom. 



Fig. 10.3.— Before. 

U''Uolnj>tihhi ''V the h il ,_>x oj .li I, .■.'iiii.ij's 1 ir.oh'im.) 

Fig. 10.4. — After. A large old bedroom was converted to a complete one-room apart- 
ment. A kitchenette and small bathroom were placed behind a partition constructed 
across one end of the original room. 

114 New Houses from Old 

bed-living room than it is to a plain bedroom. A room of this type is always 
designed so that it can be closed off easily from other parts of the house. 
It is, therefore, ideal for a cool refuge not only at night but also during 
the daytime in hot weather. 

The use of built-in chests of drawers is an excellent way of subordinating 
the bedroom furniture in this type of bedroom. You may wish to include 
them in your plan, or you may prefer to spend the money on attractive 
chests that will look as much at home among living-room furniture as among 
bedroom furniture. A generous amount of closet space is essential. Wall 
coverings should be somewhat more luxurious than the wall coverings in 
a plain bedroom. Likewise, the floor materials are often of the same quality 
as would be selected for a living room. However, less expensive flooring 
materials can be used, especially if the floor will be covered by a rug, 
because even in this type of bedroom the floor is subjected to rather light 

A ceiling lighting fixture is optional; but if you elect to omit it, plan 
the other lighting carefully and take care to have several of the baseboard 
outlets connected in with a switch located on the wall at the door. Base- 
board outlets should be provided with the same generosity as if the room 
were a living room pure and simple. No point along a baseboard should 
be farther than 6 ft. from an outlet. If an electric heater or an air condi- 
tioner will be used in the room, a special outlet should be provided on a 
separate circuit from the outlets that will be used for lights. 

Children's Bedrooms 

The requirements for well-planned children's bedrooms vary according 
to the age and sex of the child. Any family that includes a baby is fortu- 
nate indeed if the house has a room that can be set aside and furnished as 
a nursery. Both the parents and the infant will benefit from the infant's 
having a separate room. Nevertheless, in planning the remodeling of an 
average house, it is not usually economical to design one of the bedrooms 
specifically as a nursery for the reason that nurseries are needed for only 
a relatively small number of years. If you are going to need a nursery, 
include a room for it in your planning, but design the room so that it 
can be used later for a child who has passed the days of babyhood. A well- 
equipped nursery will contain at least a crib, a chest for the storage of 
the baby's clothing, a bathinette or its equivalent in the form of a table of 
suitable height for bathing and dressing, a chair for the mother, and pos- 
sibly a play pen and high chair. These are all very specialized articles of 
furniture, but their dimensions are small in comparison to adults' bedroom 

Bedrooms 115 

furniture. There will be no difficulty in placing them in a room large enough 
to accommodate the usual furniture of an older child's room. 

The nursery should be located fairly close to the bath, and this location 
will be equally essential for the bedroom of a growing child. It should be 
located where the least possible noise from the street and noisy centers of 
the house will reach it. An eastern or southeastern exposure is best both for 
babies and for young children because, since they are natural early risers, 
the sun will not awaken them before they are ready to get up and in the 
summertime it will not be shining into the room when their early bedtime 

Both the wall finish and the floor covering in the nursery should be of 
materials that are easily kept sanitary and clean. An old floor can be 
covered with such material as linoleum or cork tile, thus saving some of 
the cost of a new wooden floor. Some water-resistant wall covering will be 
necessary until the children occupying the room have passed the age where 
it is second nature to mark the walls. 

Children's bedrooms need adequate closet space. In fact, if there is room 
available, the closets in children's rooms should be as spacious as closets 
in adults' rooms. Low shelves and storage spaces that can be reached by 
small children should be included in the rooms of young children, since 
they enable the mother to teach the child to get his own playthings and to 
put them away. When the child is a little older, the same psychology should 
be applied to storage space for his clothing. Clothing that is in daily use 
should be placed within reach of the child. Articles of clothing kept in 
drawers should be in low drawers that the child can reach and operate by 
himself. Clothing kept hanging in a closet should be hung from a pole 
placed within the child's reach, and the closet door should be arranged so 
that the child can operate it by himself. Closets for children's bedrooms are 
discussed further in the next chapter. 

Built-in bunk beds (Fig. 21.6) are an excellent idea for rooms that will 
be occupied by children of school age. The advantage of such beds is, of 
course, that they conserve space. A double-decked bunk bed in a small room 
provides sleeping quarters for two children in the same amount of floor 
area required for a single bed. 

A lighting fixture in the center of the ceiling is practically a necessity in 
children's bedrooms. The fixture should be controlled by a wall switch, never 
by a pull switch, because of the danger of falling over toys and other un- 
expected objects while searching for the pull chain in the dark. A reasonable 
number of convenience outlets should be provided. The best place for these 
in nurseries is on the wall about 3% ft. from the floor. Outlets in the base- 
board are serious hazards when a baby begins to crawl and even for several 


New Houses from Old 

years after he walks. However, if the room is planned for children past the 
preschool age, the outlets may be placed in the baseboard. The spacing 
should be the same as in rooms for adults. 

Dressing Rooms 

Dressing rooms (Fig. 10.5) appear to be a luxury, but they can be justified 
from the viewpoint of economy since they reduce the portion of the house 
that in the wintertime is cooled down at night and heated up again in the 
morning. The convenience of a warm place to dress on a cold morning thus 
pays for itself in fuel saved, even if comfort is ignored. It is often possible in 
remodeling to provide dressing rooms in connection with bedrooms. When 
this is done, the bedrooms can be made considerably smaller. A dressing 
room is more attractive if it has outside light. Not long ago the ladies of 
your household would have had the right to insist on daylight in their dress- 
ing rooms, because the artificial light available was poor light in which to 
put on make-up. Now, however, fluorescent lamps are available whose light 
is composed of approximately the same mixture of radiations as daylight. 




Fig. 10.5. — A. Bedroom remodeled to provide a separate dressing room. B. Two 
small bedrooms remodeled to provide a bedroom, dressing room, and private bath. 

Bedrooms 117 

These lamps make it possible to have a satisfactory dressing room without 
windows if this is necessary. 

Sleeping Porches 

About the time when Sinclair Lewis was writing Babbitt, the sleeping 
porch was a feature of many new houses. The vogue for outdoor sleeping 
has now declined somewhat, but you may still want one in your remodeled 
house. The main requirements are good screens and privacy. The necessity 
for the screens is obvious in any section of the country where mosquitoes 
are found. Their futility is also obvious in the parts of the country infested 
during certain weeks of the summer by the small biting insects known vari- 
ously as midges and "no see-ums." Privacy includes not only isolation from 
the neighbors but also freedom from street noises, since a sleeping porch 
has no walls to mute sound. A sleeping porch should also be located, for 
convenience, next to a bedroom or dressing room. An air-conditioned bed- 
room can be expected to provide you with a more reliable type of hot-weather 
comfort, but it will not provide the exhilarating effect of the open sky and 

Problems in Remodeling Bedrooms 

The house you are planning to remodel may have bedrooms that you can 
adapt to the needs of your family without any structural changes. If so, you 
can count yourself lucky. It is more probable that the old bedrooms will 
need to be altered considerably. Changes are usually necessary to correct 
such faults as bad proportions, inadequate area, inadequate closet space, and 
insufficient headroom. 

The correcting of faulty proportions may involve the replanning of the 
entire floor. There is no better example of how this can be done than the 
remodeling illustrated in Fig. 2.22. Notice in these plans that although 
one bedroom was given up, the dressing room can be used as a bedroom 
in an emergency since it has a window, the hall can be reached either 
through the front bedroom or the bathroom, and the bathroom can be 
reached without going through the dressing room. 

An important step in planning the rearrangement of bedrooms is to deter- 
mine whether partitions that you wish to remove are bearing or nonbearing. 
This problem is discussed in Chapter 17. Bedrooms that are too small can 
be made larger only by taking space from other rooms — unless you wish 
to build an addition to the house. Often two adjoining rooms can be com- 
bined by the simple expedient of removing a partition and redecorating the 


New Houses from Old 

room. If making one room out of two makes a larger room than you really 
need, the extra space can probably be used for a bathroom or a dressing 
room. In such a case, the studs that were in the old partition can usually 
be used in the new one, thus saving you the cost of some material. If the 
floor has a number of small bedrooms, whereas you need a smaller number 
of larger ones, it will probably pay to replan the whole floor. 




Fig. 10.6. — Closet space for two rooms can be obtained as shown here. The space 
can be taken all from one bedroom or partly from both. 

There are many ways in which closet space can be provided. Fig 10.6 
shows a method for providing three or even more closets in one wall. Another 
excellent method is to build out the wall on both sides of a window. This 
has been done in Fig. 10.2, and a dressing table has been placed in the 
deep alcove between the closets. One way that is particularly applicable to 
small rooms is shown in Fig. 10.7. Here, one end of the room has been 
utilized for a built-in chest of drawers and a closet, placed side by side. A 
good method of increasing the closet space in two adjoining bedrooms can 
be seen in Fig. 2.5. Closets will be discussed further in the next chapter. 

Bedrooms with sloping ceilings — our ancestors called them knock-head 
rooms — are found in many old houses. Full headroom over a larger area of 
such rooms can be created only by raising the roof of the house and ex- 
tending the walls of the house a few feet higher or by building a shed 
dormer (Chapter 17). Either type of operation will change the exterior 
appearance of the house and should, therefore, not be undertaken unless 
your or your architect's sketches show that the change will be desirable. 
Narrow dormers are useful for admitting more light and air to rooms of 
this type, but they don't increase by very much the area of the room in 



(^Courtesy Doiiulas fir Plyz\.'ood Association.) 

Fig. 10.7. — Closet space can often be provided by building out a wall to include 
both the closet and a built-in chest. 

which a person can stand up. If there are more bedrooms in the house than 
you need, it should be possible to make the knock-head rooms more livable 
by combining two to make one room. In most houses this scheme will pro- 
duce good-sized rooms with an adequate area of floor that enjoys full head- 
room. The spaces under the sloping ceiling can then be utilized for low 
furniture or built-in storage space. 

Attic Bedrooms 

A standard method of getting more bedroom space in an existing house 
without building an addition is to convert the attic. Because a large proper- 


New Houses from Old 





Fig. 10.8. — A small rectangular attic converted to one large room and bath. 




Fig. 10.9. — An L-shaped attic converted to two large rooms and bath. 



{Courtesy Western Pine Association.) 
Fig. 10.10. — A spacious attic provides room for a combination bedroom and study. 

tion of the floor space in the average attic has less than full headroom, attics 
require careful planning, and the space can seldom be utilized as economi- 
cally as space on other floors. However, these facts should not prevent your 
making quite satisfactory bedrooms in the attic. In most houses the stair 
well must be placed near the center of the attic floor. In such cases the attic 
can be finished as one large room provided that a balustrade is placed 
around three sides of the stair well for safety. If there are several growing 
boys in your family, they will probably get much more fun out of one large 
attic room than out of two or three smaller ones. The beds in an attic room 
of really generous size can be placed at opposite ends of the room, thus 
creating an unencumbered area that boys will enjoy. If you need two bed- 
rooms in the attic, you may be able to get them by a plan similar to Fig. 
10.8 or 10.9. The main point in planning attic rooms is to avoid trying to 
get too many rooms into a restricted space. Attic rooms can be made as com- 
fortable and attractive as the room shown in Fig. 10.10 if they are well laid 
out and if the furniture is intelligently placed. 

Often it is possible to provide enough window area for attic rooms by 
placing one large or two average-sized windows in the gable ends of the 
attic, but well-placed dormers will admit still more light and air and are 
often necessary to make the rooms attractive. In some houses the joists in the 
attic ceiling are too light to support the weight of finished rooms and their 

122 New Houses from Old 

occupants. Additional joists spiked to the original ones or placed between 
them before the attic floor is laid will correct this condition. Insulation 
(Chapter 25) of the roof or of the walls and ceilings of the rooms built in 
the attic is practically always necessary for comfort in the summertime. 



Closets and Storage Space 

X LENTY OF STORAGE SPACE is a necessity in an efficient house. An adequate 
number of well-located closets will not only add to the convenience of your 
own living but will also be a strong selling point in case you want to offer 
the house for sale. When the average house had an accessible but unfinished 
attic and a large and mostly unused basement, a shortage of cupboards and 
closets throughout the house was inconvenient but otherwise not too serious, 
because seldom-used articles could be put out of sight in the attic or the 
basement. At the present time there is a definite trend toward putting both 
the attic and the basement to other uses besides storage. Even if these tradi- 
tional dumps are retained unaltered in your remodeled house, you will still 
need cupboards and closets for many articles in the living quarters of the 
house. Storage space of this kind should be as carefully planned as other 
parts of the house. The usefulness of and need for cupboards and closets 
in various parts of the house have already been mentioned in previous chap- 
ters. This chapter will deal mainly with good design and dimensions. 

Storage Space in General 

There are two basic principles in planning storage space in the home. 
The first is to locate the storage facilities where they will be most con- 
venient. The second is to make the closets and cupboards large enough to 
hold the articles for which they are intended. In planning new houses, many 
persons make much of saving space by not making closets too wide or too 
deep; but space saving in this respect is not so important in remodeling 
because the closet or cupboard must often be fitted into a niche or offset 
that already exists or that is created in some other remodeling operation 
such as the building of a bathroom. Nevertheless, the best dimensions for 
closets and cupboards should be understood and the planning done to ap- 
proach them as closely as possible. 

If a closet or cupboard is to be used for the storage of articles that are 
in daily use, as a hall closet used for outdoor clothing or a kitchen cup- 



New Houses from Old 

board used for pans, its useful width is determined by the width of the door. 
Such a closet should not be more than 24 in. wider than its door, and even 
this width is useful only when the door is located in the center. If the space 
available is more than 24 in. wider than the door and if you want all of it to 




Fig. 11.1. — Good dimensions for hall and bedroom closets. 

be in convenient reach, use two doors on the closet (Fig. 11.2). The average 
person can reach easily about 24 in. into a closet at the level of his shoulders, 
but a shelf located above his head must be considerably more shallow if he 
is to reach to the back of it without climbing up on something. Everyone is 
familiar with the fact that this problem of a high shelf is solved in clothes 
closets by making the shelves above the pole only about half as deep (Fig. 

Closets and Storage Space 125 

11.1) as the closet. It is solved — or partly solved — in overhead kitchen cup- 
boards by making the entire cupboard shallow, usually from 12 to 14 in. 
deep. However, use can always be found for deeper closets and cupboards. 
The back portion can be used to store articles that are not needed often or 
to conceal plumbing and heating pipes. 

Fig. 11.2. — Two doors are better than one on wide closets. The center partition 
adds to the convenience of the closet but is sometimes omitted. 

Doors of the ordinary type are adequate for most closets, but a closet 
located on a narrow hall or in some other restricted space may require a 
folding door of the kind shown in Fig. 5.2. In humid climates louvered doors 
(Fig. 20.13) are desirable on closets used for the storage of outdoor cloth- 
ing which is in frequent use and which can, therefore, be hung up when it is 
damp. In closets as they are ordinarily built the space above the door is 
wasted because it cannot be reached. A modern way of making this space 
useful is diagramed in Fig. 11.6. 

Closets that are used frequently should be well lighted. Sometimes a 
closet is located so that it gets adequate light from a fixture in the room. 
Kitchen cupboards, for example, seldom need individual lights; but hall 
closets and bedroom closets are not often so favorably located in relation to 
the light. In these, a ceiling light installed inside the closet is worth the 
small amount that it will cost. The siinplest way to control such a light is 
by a pull switch, but this method will inevitably be wasteful of electricity 
because the light will be left on many tiines when the closet door is closed. 
A control which is more expensive to install but which will soon pay for 
itself is a switch mounted on the door frame and arranged so that it is 
operated automatically by the opening and closing of the door. 

Hall Closets 

Good dimensions for the depth of a hall closet are shown in Fig. 11.1. 
This closet is, of course, planned mainly for the storage of clothing. It 


New Houses from Old 

should be 4 to 6 in. deeper if clothing or other articles are to be kept on 
hooks on the back wall. If the vacuum cleaner and similar articles are to be 
kept in the front of the closet, about 1 ft. of additional depth will be needed, 
but the pole for garment hangers must be located so that this extra space 
will be at the front of the closet. Unless the first floor of the house is pro- 
vided with an ample number of closets that are not attached to bedrooms, a 
double hall closet is an added convenience, since it makes possible the 
reservation of space for guests' wraps that is not cluttered with the belong- 
ings of the family. Fig. 11.2 shows how such a double closet can be pro- 
vided at little extra expense. 

Fig. 11.3. — Clothes closets in deep spaces. A requires a hanger pole that can be 
drawn outward. B requires a ceiling light. 

Bedroom Closets 

The dimensions that have been indicated for hall closets are also satis- 
factory for the average bedroom closet, because the primary purpose of the 
bedroom closet is also to store clothing that is hung from standard garment 
hangers. Frequently in remodeling, it is necessary to adapt a deep space for a 
bedroom closet. If the space is narrow, it can be arranged as shown in Fig. 
11. 3A. A special type of pole that can be pulled outward into the room 
should be used. If the space is both deep and wide, a possible arrangement 
is the one shown in Fig. 11. 3B. A scientifically minded planner would point 
out that the latter layout is wasteful of space, but the justification is that a 
closet that wastes a little space is better than no closet at all. The use for 
storage purposes of space under sloping roofs is a common problem in 
remodeling. If the distance from the floor to the ceiling at these points is 
much less than 6 ft., it cannot be used conveniently for the storage of adult 
clothing hung from hangers, but it can be used for the storage of other types 

Closets and Storage Space 


{Richard Averill Smith.) 

Fig. 11.4. — Here storage space and an alcove for a dressing table were built under 
a sloping ceiling. 

of articles. Figs. 11.4 and 11.5 illustrate two excellent ways of using such 

It is a good thing both for parents and for young children if the closets 
in the children's rooms are built so that the youngsters can operate the closet 
doors and can reach the hooks and hangers. The main thing to look out for 
in connection with the door is to have a knob on both sides so that a child 
who closes the door on himself can open it from the inside. The pole that 
holds the clothing hangers should be mounted so that its height can be 
changed easily as the children grow and their clothes become longer. The 
usefulness of open shelves and low chests (Fig. 11.5) in children's rooms 
should not be overlooked. 

Linen Closets 

Linen closets are used chiefly for the storage of such articles as towels, 
sheets, and blankets, but they are also convenient places for storing toilet 
soap, toilet paper, and other bulky toilet goods where storage space is not 
available in the bathrooms. Good minimum dimensions for the linen closet 


New Houses from Old 

{Ucdrich-Blessing Studio. Courtesy United States Gypsum Company.) 
Fig. 11.5. — The closet in a young child's room does not have to be full adult height. 

are 24 in. wide by 24 in. deep, but more generous dimensions are convenient 
if space is available. Excellent ready-built linen closets can be purchased in 
normal times. A compartment with small doors above the regular door (Fig. 
11.6) makes it possible to use the space that is usually wasted under the 
ceiling and forms an excellent place for the storage of blankets in the sum- 

Storage in Bathrooms 

The storage facility that is almost never omitted in bathrooms is the medi- 
cine cabinet. The shelves in the medicine cabinet should be from 4 to 6 in. 
deep. Shelves that are adjustable for height allow more freedom of arrange- 

Closets and Storage Space 


ment, which is a convenience when the packages in which drugs or cosmetics 
come change in dimensions, as they do frequently. If the shelves are not 
adjustable, there should be one shelf at least 9 in. in height to accommodate 
the taller bottles. Well-dimensioned, solidly built medicine cabinets are 
offered by many manufacturers. It is advisable to purchase a good one, be- 
cause the medicine cabinet always gets heavy use and furthermore is expected 
to last a long time. Medicine cabinets that are recessed into the wall are 
somewhat more attractive, but good cabinets designed for mounting on the 

Fig. 11.6. — A linen closet with separate compartment next to the ceiling. The same 
idea can be applied to other types of closets. 

wall are also available. Storage space should also be provided in the bath- 
room, if possible, for such articles as towels, washcloths, soap, toilet paper, 
and cleaning implements. Stock cabinets of steel or wood (Fig. 11.7) or 
custom-made cabinets can be used. If you have the cabinets built for your 
bathroom, minimum dimensions of 18 in. by 20 in. are suggested for the 
shelves intended for towels. Greater widths are, of course, no handicap. If 
one cabinet is built to hide the toilet cleaning brush, the bottom shelf should 
be at least 18 in. high. 

Storage in the Kitchen 

Standard sizes of steel kitchen cabinets are indicated in Fig, 11.8. Cabinets 
made of plywood are also widely used in kitchens. The dimensions of stock 
cabinets can be used as a guide to satisfactory dimensions for custom-built 


New Houses from Old 

{Courtesy of Curtis Companies, Inc., manufacturers of Curtis Woodii'ork.) 
Fig. 11.7. — There is often room for storage cabinets in the remodeled bathroom. 

Drawers, rather than cabinets with doors, are preferred by some house- 
keepers for the storage space that is located under the counters. If drawers 
are selected, they should be well made, as nothing is more annoying in a 
kitchen than drawers that bind and stick. Steel cupboards and shelves can 
also be custom made for kitchens. These are not made by local workmen but 
are ordered from manufacturers who build them from blueprints or draw- 
ings prepared by you or your architect. 

At least one tall cabinet should be provided, if possible, in a kitchen for 

Closets and Storage Space 


brooms, mops, and other cleaning equipment. If ironing is to be done in 
the kitchen and the ironing board is not built in, space should also be pro- 
vided for its storage. One spacious cabinet 5 ft. tall can often be used for 
both cleaning equipment and ironing board. 





WIDTH -I5"a 18" 
MIN. DEPTH- 13" 



8 24" 
- 13" 


WIDTHS- 15 "a 18" 
MAX. DEPTH- 25" 
MIN. DEPTH- 21 '/g 

WIDTHS- 21", 24", a 30" 
MAX. DEPTH- 25",, 
MIN. DEPTH - 21 '/g 




(.Based on drawings and data published by the Steel Kitchen Cabinet Institute.) 

Fig. 11.8. — Types and dimensions of modern steel cabinets. 

Storage in the Dining Room 

At one time, built-in storage space in the dining room was unnecessary. 
The massive sideboards that were a part of every set of dining-room furni- 
ture afforded plenty of storage space for table linens and silverware. The 
family's best dishes were displayed in a good-sized china cabinet that also 
came with the set. Now, however, built-in storage space often takes the place 
of these once standard pieces. A glass-fronted cupboard built flush with the 
wall or into a corner (Fig. 11.9) serves to display good china and glass. 
Table linens are frequently stored in a built-in chest, or one built-in article 
of furniture may serve for both storage and display (Fig. 11.10). 


Nlw Houses from Old 

{Hcdrich-Blessing Studio. Courtesy Curtis Companies, 
Inc., Clinton, lo'.va, manufacturers of Curtis Woodzvork.) 

Fig. 11.9. — A corner cupboaid can serve many purposes in remodeling. Besides 
storing china and linens, it may be installed so as to conceal piping. 

In deciding whether to include buih-in storage space in your remodeled 
dining room, you may wish to take into account the fact that storage space 
for dishes can usually be provided at less cost in the kitchen than in the 
dining room. However, the deciding factor may well be that you need to 
build cupboards or drawers in the dining room in order to improve the ap- 
pearance or proportions of the room. Most glassware and dishes can be 
stored on shelves 10 in. deep from front to back and from 8 to 12 in. high. 
A few shelves 14 in. deep will be necessary for large dishes and platters. 
Silverware can be stored in compartmented drawers only 10 in. in depth, 
but it is more common to use a deeper drawer that will accommodate several 

Closets and Storage Space 


rows of silver. Since table linens can be folded to almost any size, stock 
sizes of drawers can be used for them. Drawers measuring 30 in. wide by 
18 in. deep by 10 in. high are satisfactory, but larger drawers can be used 
with no inconvenience if you have space for them. 

Fig. 11.10. — In modern dining rooms, the dishes are often displayed on open 

Storage in the Living Room 

In the living room, closets and cupboards are used to accommodate a 
miscellaneous range of articles from books to card tables. Most of these 
articles can be stored in shallow cupboards or shelves, but here, again, if 
deep cupboards are called for in your remodeling in order to correct some 
architectural defect of the old room, do not hesitate to build them. A good 
scheme of procedure in planning closets and shelves in the living room is 
first to decide where they are needed for their decorative value or for correct- 
ing bad proportions or irregularities. Next measure the space, and then make 
up a list of the chief articles that you wish to store. Finally, plan shelf, 
drawer, and door arrangements that will accommodate these articles. Living- 
room storage facilities are far from standardized. A combination of imagina- 
tion and good planning can produce results that are both convenient and 
attractive, as a study of the living rooms pictured in this book will prove. 

134 New Houses from Old 

About the only kind of living-room storage facility that is more or less 
standardized is bookshelves, and even these are subject to many variations. 
Observe the bookshelves in Figs. 6.3, 6.6, and 6.7. A good height for book- 
shelves to accommodate average-sized books is 9% in., measured from the 
top surface of one shelf to the bottom of the one above. This allows room 
for your fingers when you pull a book from the shelves. Medium-sized books 
need shelves 10^ in. tall. Shelves 12% in. tall will accommodate most of 
the large books that will be found in the average home library. In fact, 
unless you own a great many large books, it is doubtful whether you will 
need to build shelves of this height, since a few large books can be stored 
on their sides. A good depth for bookshelves is 10 in., but if you need to 
build deeper shelves to fill a deeper space, it is a simple matter to keep the 
books at the front edges of the shelves by nailing small wooden strips to 
the shelves at the right distance from their front edges. If your library 
undergoes frequent revision, you may desire adjustable bookshelves. A num- 
ber of ingenious brackets to support adjustable shelves are available. How- 
ever, the average family finds fixed bookshelves convenient and satisfactory. 

Storage in the Basement 

The average basement is not a good place to store furniture or other 
articles that deteriorate when exposed to moisture. However, if your base- 
ment is dry, and particularly if it is well heated during a good portion of 
the year, it may be as good a place for storage as any other area in the house. 
Here, again, the kind of storage space to be built depends on what you need 
to store. Also, it depends on how neat you want the basement to be. If you 
plan to use the basement for a recreation room or for a home workshop, 
undoubtedly you will want to keep miscellaneous articles out of sight. 

Garden equipment is commonly stored in basements. Long-handled im- 
plements, such as rakes and hoes, require a closet about 6 ft. in height. 
Spades, shovels, lawn mowers, and smaller equipment can be stored in 
closets about 5 ft. in height. A closet spacious enough so that the garden 
tools can be stored without crowding is probably the most satisfactory scheme 
for storing these articles in the basement. Such a closet should have a light 
inside it and a door wide enough so that the lawn mower, hose reel, and the 
wheelbarrow can be taken through it without difficulty. If your household 
equipment includes such articles as bicycles, velocipedes, and baby car- 
riages, you will probably wish to provide space in the basement for them, 
also. In such a case, an excellent scheme is to build a closet of really gen- 
erous size, say 8 ft. by 10 ft. and to arrange it so that the garden equipment, 
baby carriage, etc., can all be stored within it. 

Closets and Storage Space 135 

The basement is also the conventional storage place for canned food. 
Closets for the canned food should be spacious enough to accommodate all 
of the food that may be stored. Approximate dimensions of cans and jars 
used for home-canned foods are as follows: glass jars, pint, 3 in. in diameter 
by 5% in. in height; quart, 4 in. by 7 in.; No. 2 tin cans, 3% in. by 4^2 
in.; No. 2^4, 4 in. by 4%^ in. In planning shelves to accommodate either 
jars or cans, you may make the shelves shallow so that only two or three 
rows of jars or cans can be put on them, in which case it is not necessary 
to allow space for lifting jars or cans out of the back rows, or you may 
plan deep shelves and make them high enough to allow for hand space. 
The shelves should be made of heavy enough lumber so that they will not 

The old-time cellar with its earthen floor was an ideal place for the winter 
storage of potatoes and root vegetables. Modern basements with their con- 
crete floors and constant heat from the heating plant in the wintertime are 
not good storage places for vegetables. However, it is a simple matter to 
provide such space in a modern basement, and it is an essential one, too, if 
you have a farm or large garden in connection with your home. Part of the 
basement is closed off and insulated from the heating plant. The floor in this 
part may be bare earth, but little harm is done if it is concrete, as enough 
moisture to keep the vegetables from drying out rapidly will find its way 
through the concrete, particularly if the vegetables are stored in sand that is 
in contact with the floor. Ventilation to outdoor air is important for this 
closet. It can usually be provided by including one of the basement windows 
in the closet area. Wood is commonly used to make bins for the storage of 
potatoes and root vegetables, but poured-concrete or concrete-block parti- 
tions are superior since they do not rot out. In building a food-storage closet 
or, in fact, any closet that runs from the basement floor to the joists and 
girders above, care should be taken in regions infested by subterranean 
termites not to construct a natural passageway (Chapter 15) from the 
foundation or basement floor to the wood above for these pests. 

Storage in the Garage 

The garage is another place where storage space can be provided. In 
garages with space to spare, closets and cupboards can be built on one or 
both sides. However, some storage space can be provided even in narrow 
garages by hanging cupboards on the wall above the front end of the car. 
In garages with pitched roofs, racks can be constructed under the roof for 
the storage of storm doors, screens, and — if you happen to be a home crafts- 
man — ^lumber. In designing storage space in the garage, the same principle 

136 New Houses from Old 

should be applied as has been emphasized throughout this chapter; that is, 
cupboards or closets should be dimensioned to hold the type of article that 
you plan to store in them. Garden tools, the snow shovel, sleds, skis, and 
other articles that have a seasonal use are the best classes of home equip- 
ment for storage in detached garages. If the garage is built in the basement 
and is heated in the wintertime, it can, of course, be used for the storage 
of any articles that could be stored in a heated basement. It is well, how- 
ever, to keep the amount of inflammable material in a garage to a minimum. 
This is especially true if the garage is located in the basement with only a 
plastered ceiling between it and the house above. 




1 N OLD HOUSES in the country, the basement usually has an earthen floor, 
is damp and rather dark. In the condition in which you will find it, it will 
be suitable for only the purpose for which the original builder intended it — 
the storage of food for the traditional long winter months. In old city and 
suburban homes that have not been modernized, the basement will usually 
have a concrete floor, will be moderately dry, and perhaps will be moderately 
well lighted. Still the space in it will not be used intensively. The heating 
plant will be there and probably, also, the laundry. The rest of the space 
will no doubt be devoted to miscellaneous storage. If you are remodeling 
on a limited budget, you may decide to leave the basement as it is for a 
while — aside from the necessary repairs — but it is quite probable that 
eventually you will feel the urge to put the large amount of space in it to 
uses that will contribute more to your way of living. 

Some of the uses to which basements are put in modern homes are recrea- 
tion room, wood- or metal-working shop, photographic darkroom, laundry, 
and garage. In fact, practically any activity — even cornet practice — ^that does 
not fit into the regular living quarters of the house can be moved to the 
basement, whenever you can afford the moderate expense of fixing up suit- 
able quarters there. There are no rules other than planning intelligently for 
what you want. Furthermore, don't let the appearance of the basement when 
you first see it discourage you. There is little resemblance, other than spatial, 
between the appearance of an old-fashioned basement and the same base- 
ment remodeled (Figs. 12.1 and 12.3). 

Space Requirements of the Heating System 

If the furnace or boiler burns coal or coke, the fuel bin will take up con- 
siderable space. Although the number of cubic feet occupied by a ton of 
solid fuel varies according to the size of the lumps, being less as the size 
grows smaller, the following estimates of cubic feet per ton are satisfactory 
in planning fuel bins: for anthracite coal, 40; for bituminous coal, 45; for 



New Houses from Old 

Fig. 12.1.— Before. 

(.Courtesy United States Gypsum Company.) 
Fig. 12.2. — Part of the same basement after remodeling. 

(Figs. 12. \ and 12.2 from Hcdrich-Blcssiiig Studio photographs. 





(Courtesy United States Gypsum Company.) 

Fig. 12.3. — Before and after floor plans of the remodeled basement shown in Figs. 
12.1 and 12.2. Note that the location of the chimney was not changed. 

coke, 65. The standard, oval-shaped, 275-gal. fuel-oil tank with its fittings 
requires a floor space of about 30 in. by 70 in. or 40 in. by 70 in., depending 
on the style of tank. The dimensions of boilers and furnaces vary greatly 
and should be obtained from the manufacturer or dealer. The least bulky 
are the gas-fired steam or hot-water boilers, and the bulkiest are the hand- 

140 New Houses from Old 

fired warm-air systems; but few heating systems together with the fuel 
storage require more than one-quarter of the basement, unless only part of 
the space under the house is excavated, and some types and makes of heating 
systems require very much less. 

Space Requirements of the Garage 

Automobiles vary considerably in length but only slightly in width. A 
garage that has a floor area 9 ft. 6 in. wide by 20 ft. long is spacious enough 
for most modern cars. If you have two cars, the garage should have a floor 
area of about 17 ft. by 20 ft. The door opening for a one-car garage should 
be 8 ft. wide and for a two-car garage, 16 ft. wide. Garage doors are 6 ft. 6 
in. or 7 ft. high. A headroom of 8 ft. from floor to ceiling is desirable to 
provide for the door mechanism and for pipes that run overhead in the 
garage space, but if there is not this much headroom available, 7 ft. will do 
if a 6-ft. 6-in. door is used. If it turns out that the floor area you have avail- 
able for the garage is larger than the dimensions given, you can always use 
space at the front end of the garage or along the side for a bench or for 
storage cupboards. 

Space Requirements of the Laundry 

The necessary dimensions of the laundry will depend on the equipment 
that you intend to put in it. A fully equipped laundry with double laundry 
tubs, a conventional type of washing machine, an electric ironer, an ironing 
board, and a worktable (Fig. 12.4) requires a minimum floor area of 8 ft. 
by 10 ft. On the other hand, if you will have an automatic washer, a single 
laundry tub will probably be adequate. If you decide also to put the electric 
ironer somewhere else in the house, the space allotted to the laundry proper 
can be small indeed — about 8 ft. by 8 ft. However, if the laundry will be 
used for full family washings, the area of the room should not be skimped. 

The best way to plan the layout of the laundry is to measure the equip- 
ment you have or to obtain from the dealer the dimensions of the equipment 
you intend to buy. Then on a plan of the room, or on the floor of the area 
itself, sketch the equipment in outline in the way you wish to arrange it. 
Group the equipment in logical order, the washing equipment in one group 
and the ironing equipment in another. If you have two worktables, put one 
with the washing equipment and the other with the ironing equipment. If 
you have only one table, put it between them. Clothes driers, used in some 
modern homes, are rather bulky equipment, the dimensions of which are 
not standardized. If you will have one, get its dimensions from the manu- 



Fig. 12.4. — A modern home laundry. 

Uoiiitfsy Lranc Company.) 

(Co:irlrsy Douglas Fir Plywood Association.) 
Fig. 12.5. — The basement may be used as a second living room. 

142 New Houses from Old 

facturer's catalogue or from the dealer. It is not necessary to locate the 
clothes drier in the laundry, although this is a logical place for it if the 
room is large enough. In some homes, the laundry is placed in the kitchen 
or in a room adjacent to it, which location, of course, takes it out of the 
basement entirely. 

Space Requirements of the Recreation Room 

Here, again, the required dimensions depend on the equipment you plan 
to put into the room. If you are going to use it for games, you must plan its 
dimensions accordingly. A small ping-pong table measures 4 ft. by 8 ft., 
but it must be placed in a floor area at least 10 ft. wide by 18 ft. long. The 
larger size of ping-pong table, 5 ft. by 9 ft., requires a floor area of at least 
11 ft. by 20 ft. Other games also have definite space requirements. If you 
are going to use the room as a second living room, plan it as such, but do 
not be too formal about it. The chief virtue of an attractive recreation room 
(Fig. 12.5) is its air of attractive informality. 

Special Considerations in Modernizing Basements 

The structural changes that must be made, such as floor treatments, wall 
and ceiling treatments, etc., in converting an old-type basement to a modern 
one are discussed in other places in this book. Here it will be necessary 
only to point out a few things that are sometimes overlooked. 

Ventilation. If a basement is to be used comfortably for living purposes, 
it must have more ventilation than is usually available in basements. A base- 
ment that is located mainly underground and has tightly fitted windows does 
not even have the amount of ventilation that is provided by air infiltration 
in the parts of the house that are located above grade. If the house is heated 
by a forced warm-air system, ventilation can easily be provided by placing 
one or two warm-air registers and also a return duct for cold air in the 
recreation room. If the house is heated by some other type of system, the best 
scheme for ventilation is that of arranging the basement windows'so that they 
can be opened and closed easily. 

Heating. The necessity for heating areas that are isolated from the com- 
partment that contains the boiler or furnace is sometimes overlooked when 
basements are modernized. If the heating system is one that cannot supply 
heat to basement rooms (Chapter 24), some other means of heating should 
be provided. A fireplace with a built-in fireplace unit (Chapter 16) that 
will supply heated air to the basement is an excellent way of doing this if 
there is a flue available for a fireplace. Forced-air convectors of the type 

Basements 143 

that is used for heating garages and stores offer another way. Convectors of 
this kind are mounted near the ceiling and in this position can be attached to 
any steam or hot-water heating system, even systems that cannot supply 
radiators in the basement. Recreation rooms and the like in compact base- 
ments can sometimes be heated satisfactorily by opening the door between 
them and the compartment that contains the boiler or furnace. The disad- 
vantage in this method is that in mild weather when the heating system is 
not operating at full capacity, there will not be enough heat, especially if the 
boiler or furnace is well insulated. 

Lighting and electrical outlets. The lighting should be specifically planned 
for each room in the basement. The heater compartment will need a fixture 
mounted on the ceiling and controlled by a switch at the head of the base- 
ment stairs. If the stairs are placed so that this light does not also illuminate 
them, there should be a second light on the same circuit, placed so that it 
will light the stairs. The storage closet should have its individual ceiling 
light, controlled by a switch located outside the door or by a switch auto- 
matically operated by the door. The laundry is likewise best lighted by a 
ceiling fixture, which should be controlled by a wall switch to avoid the 
danger of shock while standing on the wet floor. The lighting of the recrea- 
tion room should be planned to suit the uses of the room. Such a room as is 
pictured in Fig. 12.5 is lighted the same as a living room, but a recreation 
room that is used chiefly for games such as ping-pong will need a generous 
number of ceiling lights. Lighting fixtures that are recessed in the ceiling 
(Fig. 12.2) make it possible to have good illumination from the ceiling 
without the inconvenience of fixtures that hang down in the restricted head- 
room. Convenience outlets are not usually needed in the boiler compartment 
or in the storage closet; but they should be provided in the laundry and in 
basement shops or laboratories in numbers adequate for all the electrical 
devices that may be connected to them. In the recreation room, convenience 
outlets should be provided on the same plan as in a regular living room. As 
in other parts of the house, the outlets should be on separate circuits from 
the lights. 



How to Do Remodeling 

xVfter you have read this chapter, its title may appear to you to be rather 
inexact because its subject is the paper work that should precede remodeling. 
However, the authors have chosen the title purposely to emphasize the im- 
portance of this preliminary paper work. If you were going to build a new 
house, undoubtedly you would seek information and advice in many quarters 
and do much weighing and thinking before you signed the contract for the 
construction of the house. You have even more of a problem in an extensive 
remodeling operation, for you will want the final result to be as satisfactory, 
or even more so, as if you were building a new house; yet, unless you have 
a considerable amount of money to spend, you must achieve this result 
without too much alteration of the existino; structure. 

Should You Employ an Architect? 

This is the first major question that you must decide and, depending on 
your knowledge of house building and other circumstances, the most im- 
portant. If the remodeling is going to be extensive and if you have no more 
than the average person's knowledge of house construction, the right answer 
is that you should employ an architect. An architect is a trained specialist 
in building. He not only knows the standard materials and methods but also 
will be informed about new ones that may give you a better remodeled house 
or a less costly one. Furthermore, he is a specialist in the legal details such 
as building-code requirements, specifications, and contracts. Also, he will 
have "inside" information about such things as whether certain materials 
and equipment give satisfactory service and which of the local contractors 
do conscientious work and which ones cut corners on the specifications if 
they can get away with it. The architect will charge you a fee. The exact per- 
centage varies from one locality to another, but in remodeling, it is usually 
10 per cent of the total cost of the job. However, he will earn it. In fact, you 
may not be out of pocket at all on account of his fee, for he may be able 
to save you all of it, either by talking you out of changes that would cost 


How to Do Remodeling 145 

more than they would be worth to you, or by getting better results for the 
money you spend than you would get if you did the remodeling without him. 
Nevertheless, much remodeling is done without an architect. Small opera- 
tions, such as the modernization of a kitchen or a bathroom, can usually be 
done successfully without hiring an architect. If you have a fair knowledge of 
building methods or are one of those fortunate persons to whom working 
with tools is second nature, you may be able to carry out the complete re- 
modeling of a house without expert advice or help. Certainly many Jacks-of- 
all-trades have remodeled houses. The results are sometimes indifferent; on 
the other hand, sometimes they are very good. In any case, if you are going 
to do the work or even undertake the supervision of it yourself, you will 
have to do the preliminary planning thoroughly and well. 

Your Object in Remodeling 

The success of the remodeling operation will depend largely on how well 
you think out, first, what you want to accomplish by remodeling and, second, 
how to get what you want without spending more than you can afford. 
More than anything else, you will need a practical attitude toward the prob- 
lem. If you have plenty of money, it will be practical for you to do almost 
anything you wish with the existing house; but if your funds are limited, 
you will have to aim at making changes that will not cost too much. One 
extreme of remodeling is illustrated in Figs. 2.30 to 2.33. An almost new 
house was built and the cost was considerable, although the finished house 
is well worth all it cost. The other extreme is illustrated in Figs. 13.1 and 
13.2. Here the living room was well built but unattractive. It was trans- 
formed by removing the moldings and bracket lamps from the walls, by 
building a wallboard partition to conceal the irregular corners, to support 
the decorative bookcases, and to frame the window, by replacing the glass 
in the old-fashioned French doors with wood panels, and by refinishing the 
floors and other woodwork. The window appears to have been changed, but 
this is an illusion created by the wide Venetian blind and the draperies. 
The whole operation cost very little because no structural changes were at- 

Your attitude toward your remodeling may be determined by the house 
itself. If it is a fine house built in colonial times or even later, you will plan 
the remodeling to preserve as much of the existing structure as possible; but 
if it is an undistinguished house, even though it is well built, you will plan 
to change it as much as is necessary in order to get the living accommoda- 
tions that you want. Only you in collaboration with your family can analyze 
all of the factors in the situation; and all that the authors can do for you 


New Houses from Old 


Fig. 13.1. — Before. 

{Richard Avcrill Smith.) 

(Richard Avcrill S)nith.) 

Fig. 13.2. — After. Effective remodeling does not always require expensive structural 
changes. In this case, even the original doors were used by substituting a wood 
panel for the glass. 

How to Do Remodeling 147 

in this respect is urge you to make your analysis a thorough one and not 
to attempt any reconstruction until you are certain that you know clearly 
what you want in the remodeled house and exactly how you are going to 
get it. 

Getting Information on Remodeling 

Successful remodeling is based on good ideas. Your interest in remodel- 
ing may have arisen because you are in possession of a house that needs 
remodeling or because you intend to purchase a house to remodel. In either 
case, you will have some ideas about what you want the house to be like 
after it is remodeled, but the ideas may not be very clear. If you are like 
other people who become interested in remodeling, you will not only benefit 
by but also enjoy searching for descriptions of other remodeled houses and 
information about new building materials and equipment. The list, Useful 
Books and Pamphlets, near the end of this volume will serve to put you on 
the track of much data on almost any remodeling problem. The best places 
to look for case histories of successful remodeling are the architectural and 
homemaking magazines, of which any public library will have a good stock. 
The contents of most of these magazines are indexed regularly in The Read- 
ers' Guide to Periodical Literature and The Art Index, which are on file in 
most public libraries. 

Sweet's Architectural Catalogs, copies of which are found in architects' 
offices and also in medium-sized and large public libraries, are excellent 
sources of information about building materials and equipment. The Home 
Owners' Catalogs, published by the F. W. Dodge Corporation, contain a 
selected group of catalogues of home equipment. This book is distributed 
only in the states east of the Rocky Mountains and to families who are plan- 
ning to build new houses or to remodel extensively existing ones within one 
year of the time when a copy is requested. The National Bureau of Stand- 
ards, Washington, D. C, issues publications that are useful in repairing and 
remodeling houses. Many other government agencies, trade associations, and 
manufacturers issue publications from time to time that are of interest in 
remodeling. Some manufacturers and dealers, including the large mail-order 
houses, will give considerable help in the solving of remodeling problems. 

Plans and Sketches 

Plans and sketches that are drawn to scale are absolutely necessary in 
remodeling. If you are a fairly good artist, a freehand sketch will serve 
when you wish to put down an idea tentatively, but nothing ether than a 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 13.3. — One of the first steps in planning remodeling is to draw a scaled floor 
plan of the existing structure. 

scaled drawing will show whether you can actually arrange a floor plan 
or equip a room as you wish. Scale drawings of the kind that you need in 
planning can be made easily by the use of graph paper (also called co- 

The outlines in Figs. 13.4 and 13.5 indicate the floor area required by typical 
household furniture and equipment. The solid lines show the most common dimen- 
sions, and the dotted lines the common alternative dimensions. The outlines are 
drawn to the scale Y^ in. = 1 ft., hence they can easily be altered to suit furniture 
of still other dimensions. To make templates, paste the sheets to stiff cardboard, 
then cut out the individual outlines. 


New Houses from Old 

GRAND -81" 
















18" - 














Fig. 13.4. 

How to Do Remodeling 

T 1 J 16" 



L - 









































._ J i 



18" J. 

y* — btlNUH 









Fig. 13.5. 

How to Do Remodeling 153 

ordinate paper). This paper is available in various rulings, but a con- 
venient one for use in house planning has eight lines to the inch. This 
number of lines permits the use of one side of a square as the equivalent 
of 1 ft. for a scale of ^s in. equals 1 ft., which is a good scale for the first 
drawings. After the planning has advanced somewhat and you need to make 
certain of the placing of furniture and equipment, it is well to use a larger 
scale, which can be done on the same paper. For example, by using the 
sides of four squares as the equivalent of 1 ft., drawings can be made on 
the scale of /4 in. equals 1 ft. Or if you wish to use the furniture and equip- 
ment outlines in Figs. 13.4 and 13.5, which are drawn to the scale of 
^4 in. equals 1 ft., scale your second drawings by using the sides of two 
squares as equal to 1 ft. 

A good procedure in remodeling is to draw first the plan of the room or 
floor as it exists. This should be drawn in pencil; then when the whole plan 
is correctly drawn, the lines should be inked, preferably with India ink, so 
that they will not rub off as you continue to work on the sheet. The changes 
that are to be made in the remodeling can then be drawn in pencil. Erase 
and alter these as much as you wish, and after you have them right, ink 
these lines with a different color of ink. Another scheme for distinguishing 
between existing and new construction is to indicate the first with shaded 
lines and the second with solid lines (Fig. 2.26). Architects sometimes indi- 
cate existing construction that is to be removed by using dotted lines. 

The drawings that you have made in this way will not serve as working 
drawings unless you are going to do the remodeling yourself. However, they 
can be taken to your architect or builder to show him what you want done. 
If the actual work will be undertaken by a contractor or if plans must be 
filed in order to obtain a building permit, a complete set of working draw- 
ings must be prepared. These drawings are usually made in an architect's 
office. They are drawn in pencil, and after you have approved them, several 
blueprint copies are made for use by the architect and builder, for filing 
with the municipal authority that issues the building permit, and as a record 
for you. 

Changes in the exterior of the house require a different technique. Here 
you will be concerned with the effect that the changes you are contemplating 
will have on the appearance of the house as it is viewed from the outside. If 
an architect is in charge of the remodeling, he will probably have scaled 
drawings made of the elevations (sides) of the house that will be changed 
in the remodeling. Such drawings, if they are to be of much use, require 
careful measuring of all the important details (Fig. 13.13) of the fagade. 
They are too difficult for amateurs to attempt. 

Architectural photographs. Fortunately, there is a simpler way of finding 
out how your house will appear if you make exterior changes; and it is 


New Houses from Old 

necessary only that you know how to take architectural photographs or that 
you hire someone who does know to take them for you. The photographs 
should be made with an anastigmatic lens so that the lines of the house 
will not be distorted by the camera. If you take the photographs yourself, 
place the camera on a tripod or some other solid support. Stop the lens 
down to make the photograph sharp, and time the exposure to produce a 
negative with good contrasts. The camera should be centered in relation to 
the side of the house you are photographing, as shown in Fig. 13.6. 




Fig. 13.6. — Place the camera squarely in relation to the house to obtain a photo- 
graph for enlarging to scale. 

A camera that has a front that can be tilted is an advantage but is not 
absolutely necessary. Have an enlargement made from the negative of such 
a size that the dimensions of the house in the picture will have some easily 
calculated relationship to the actual dimensions of the house. For example, 
if the side of the house that you have photographed is 30 ft. wide, making 
it 7% in. wide in the enlargement will give you a scale of ^4 i"- equals 1 ft. 
When you have the finished enlargement home, fasten it with thumbtacks 
to a drawing board or table top, tack tracing paper over it, and draw the 
house on the tracing paper. Next, remove the tracing paper and tack it 
down over a sheet of graph paper. You will then be ready to draw in the 
alterations that you wish to make and to judge their effects. 

Figs. 13.7 and 13.8 illustrate another way in which photographs can be 

How to Do Remodeling 


Fig. 13.7. — A photograph taken as remodeling was started. 

Fig. 13.8. — Artist's rendering based on the photograph. It shows a possible appear- 
ance of the house after remodeling. 

(Fir/s. 13.7 and 13. S, courtesy Johiis-Manvillc Sales Corporation.) 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 13.9. 

How to Do Remodeling 

29 '-9 




Fig. 13.10. 

SiDSl Wal,ic 


New Houses from Old 




— SC^qLE g V4"=l-0" — 
Fig. 13.11. 

How to Do Remodeling 



2-r ' -M2-0 H- 


Fig. 13.12. 


New Houses from Old 


How to Do Remodeling 161 

used. Here the photographer has taken a view of the house from one corner, 
and a drawing has been made from the photograph to show a possible ap- 
pearance of the remodeled house. When the photograph is made from an 
angle in this way, it is not easy for a person who has not had some training 
in drawing to draw the proposed alterations in their true proportions; but 
if you understand the principles of perspective drawing or can get someone 
who does to help you, you will find these views from an angle very helpful 
in visualizing the finished house. 

Plan reading. Figs. 13.9 to 13.13 are reproductions of part of a set* of 
working drawings for a small modern house. The working drawings that 
are necessary for the remodeling of your house may be much simpler than 
these, or they may be more complicated, depending on the work that is to be 
done; but these drawings are shown to give you an idea of the details that 
are necessary on good working drawings. 

Observe how many dimensions must be given even though the drawings 
are made to a precise scale. As in most architectural drawings, the mark ' 
is used to indicate feet and the mark " to indicate inches; thus 7'6" means 
7 ft. 6 in. Notice how the framing details are indicated when they cannot 
be shown. For example, "2-x-6's over. 16" o.c." in the two larger bedrooms 
on the second floor means that joists of 2-in. by 6-in. lumber, spaced 16 in. 
from the longitudinal center of one joist to the longitudinal center of the 
next, are to be used in the framing of the bedroom ceilings. The arrows 
indicate the direction that the joists are to run. As you can see, the locations 
of permanent equipment such as bathroom fixtures, radiators, and radiator 
cabinets, even window screens, are all clearly shown. Doors are indicated 
by straight lines and short arcs to indicate the direction of swing. Double- 
hung windows are shown by straight lines, but casement windows are indi- 
cated similarly to doors. Observe how the details and dimensions of the 
fireplace and chimney, including the diameters of the two flues, are shown. 

The accurate reading of plans is in itself an art that can be learned fully 
only by much study or experience, but you will not need to learn much of 
it in order to do your remodeling successfully. Although many symbols are 
used, the meaning of most of them will be obvious when you have a set of 
plans before you. Some of the standard symbols used in house plans are 
shown in Fig. 13.14. Electrical symbols are shown in Fig. 29.5. 

Contracts and Related Legal Matters 

The importance of written contracts when the remodeling will be done 
for you cannot be too strongly emphasized. Because many remodeling opera- 

* The complete set appears in G. H. Cooper's Building Construction Estimating, N. Y., 
McGraw-Hill, 1945, from wliich these drawings are reprinted by permission of the author. 


New Houses from Old 







1 \ 


y jI 



^ ■ •- 

^•/ ;> -v . 


"JTTi .1, ^ -J 


Fig. 13.14. — Architectural symbols for common materials. 

tions involve small amounts of money in comparison to new construction, 
homeowners are prone to undertake them without bothering with such legal 
formalities as written contracts. Misunderstandings between an owner and 
a builder occur even when the work is covered by a written contract; and 
if there is nothing between you and your builder but a verbal agreement, the 
chances of irritating and costly disagreements will be greatly multiplied. If 
you employ an architect, he will usually have the contract documents drawn 
up as part of his services to you, but you may still want a lawyer to look 
over them. If you don't employ an architect, you will certainly need the 
services of a lawyer, since practically all standard contract forms must be 
modified to adapt them to particular cases of remodeling. 

A good and widely used contract form is the American Institute of Archi- 
tects' American Institute of Architects' Short Form for Small Construction 
Contracts. Although this copyrighted form is intended primarily for new 
construction, it can readily be adapted to remodeling operations. The In- 
stitute recommends its use only when the proposed work is simple in char- 
acter, when it is sinall in cost, and when a stipulated sum forms the basis 
of payment. This form consists of four parts: an agreement between the con- 
tractor and owner, a statement of the general conditions of the contract, the 
drawings, and the specifications. The drawings must, of course, be expertly 
prepared working drawings. Forms covering other types of building opera- 
tions are also issued by the Institute, which does not, however, issue a special 
form for remodeling. Standard forms for building contracts are also sold by 
dealers in legal forms. 

The specifications in the contract are exact descriptions of the materials 
that are to be used and the manner in which they are to be installed. If you 
put the work in charge of an architect, he will attend to the specifications, 
but if you have the contract drawn up by a lawyer, you will probably have 
to supply the specifications. Most manufacturers will furnish specifications 

How to Do Remodeling 163 

for their products on request. For example, if you are going to install a 
copper roof on your house, you will be able to obtain a recommended form 
of specifications for the installation from a manufacturer of this kind of 
roofing. A collection of specifications that is often useful in drawing up a 
contract for remodeling is the Home Owners' Loan Corporation's Master 
Specifications, which is listed in Useful Books and Pamphlets. 

In most communities, remodeling operations that are in the nature of 
repairs do not require the issuing of building permits; but operations that 
involve structural changes in the house or the installation of plumbing come 
under the same laws as new building. In cities and villages there are usually 
building codes that apply to remodeling as well as to new construction. 
Building permits are usually required in such communities. Some states, also, 
have building or sanitary codes that apply throughout the state including 
the rural districts. Workmen's compensation insurance, which provides for 
payment to workers who may be killed or injured while at work on your 
property, will be your responsibility in most states if you hire the men 
directly. Unless you are well informed on such matters, you will need the 
advice of someone who is an expert in them. 

Financing Remodeling 

There are two general methods of borrowing for remodeling. The first is 
to obtain a loan on the basis of your income and credit rating. This method 
does not require the pledging of the property for security. Loans of this 
type are usually short-term — that is, they must be repaid within a compara- 
tively short period, five years, three years, or less. The second method is 
to place a mortgage on the property as security for the loan, or if it is 
already mortgaged, to increase the amount of the existing loan. This method 
is used when the amount of money needed is comparatively large. The 
period, or term, for repayment may be longer, and the transaction is handled 
in much the same way as a loan for new construction. Loans guaranteed by 
the Federal Housing Administration are usually available for remodeling; 
and veterans may borrow for remodeling under the G.I. Bill of Rights. 

Information about the types of loans available and the charges and terms 
for them is best obtained from a bank, savings and loan association, or other 
lending institution in your community at the time when you are ready to 
begin your remodeling. However, if you can pay for the remodeling without 
borrowing, by all means do so, for then the money that you spend will go 
to pay for its actual cost rather than partly for interest and other charges 
that usually must be paid when money is borrowed. 



Masonry Work 

IVXasonry includes concrete that is cast in place and structural units, 
such as concrete block, brick, structural clay, and stone, which are usually 
set in mortar. Masonry work in remodeling may involve the repair of exist- 
ing masonry or the construction of new. 


The ingredients of concrete are usually Portland cement, sand and gravel 
(aggregates), and water. 

Portland cement. Portland cement is not a brand name but is the name 
of a kind of cement, of which there are many excellent brands produced by 
various manufacturers. Portland cement is sold in heavy paper bags, each 
of which contains 94 lb. (equal to 1 cu. ft.) of cement. Four bags are equal 
to one barrel. Portland cement must be protected from dampness. When it 
is purchased, it should be dry and free flowing and it should be stored so 
that it will remain dry until it is used. Cement that has become slightly 
lumpy in the bag can be used if the lumps pulverize when struck lightly; 
but if the lumps are hard and difiicult to break up, the cement should be dis- 

Sand. Sand for concrete should be clean, sharp, and of a suitable fineness. 
Sand from ocean beaches should not be used. It is especially important that 
the sand should contain the least possible amount of organic matter. Wher- 
ever washed sand is available, it should be used in preference to unwashed 
sand from a gravel bank. Where washed sand is not available, unwashed 
pit sand is commonly used. However, even though the sand has the reputa- 
tion of making good concrete, it should be tested if it appears to be dirty. 
Suspected sand can be tested for dirt by placing a layer of it about 4 in. 
deep in a quart fruit jar, nearly filling the jar with water, shaking thor- 
oughly, and allowing the mixture to stand overnight. In the morning, dirt 
in the sand will have settled on top of it, forming a band between the clean 
sand and the water. If there is more than a trace of dirt, do not use the sand 


Masonry Work 165 

unless you are willing to undertake the labor of washing it. A test with 
sodium hydroxide — ^the procedure for which is described in most books on 
concrete work — is more reliable and should be made if sand of doubtful 
quality must be used on an important job. 

Small quantities of sand, such as may be needed for a small batch of 
mortar, can be washed in a pail by swirling the sand in plenty of water. 
The washing of larger quantities requires some homemade equipment. A 
flat-bottomed wooden trough about 2 ft. wide and 14 ft. long and with sides 
4 to 6 in. high is made of fairly heavy lumber. A fine wire screen with forty 
meshes to the linear inch is built into the bottom of the trough about 4 ft. 
from its end; and a coarser screen — about eight meshes to the inch — is built 
in about 2 ft. from the same end. The finished trough is supported on trestles 
so that its higher end is 5 or 6 ft. above the ground and its lower end is 
about 1% ft. from the ground. The trough is placed so that the screens are 
at the lower end. The dirty sand is shoveled into the upper end of the trough, 
and water from a hose is played on it. The water and sand mixture will flow 
down the trough, water and dirt will pass through the fine screen, the sand 
will pass through the coarser screen, and the gravel will roll out at the end 
of the trough. 

Even though the untreated sand from a pit or bank is clean, it should be 
screened, since the correct proportioning of fine and coarse aggregates is 
one of the requirements for good concrete. The sand as it comes from the 
pit should be passed through a screen with four openings per linear inch 
to separate the sand from the gravel. Gravel as coarse as 1% in. in diameter 
can be used in walls 4 in. or more thick. Gravel as coarse as % in. in diam- 
eter can be used in concrete from 2 to 4 in. thick. Coarser gravel should be 
picked out or, if there is much of it, screened out. When handling sand and 
gravel, always place lumber on the ground to receive it. The lumber will 
protect it from dirt and will make cleaning up of the area much easier Avhen 
the work is done. 

Water. Water for use in concrete should be clean and free of salt, alkali, 
and the products of decaying vegetable matter. "Water fit to drink" is the 
usual rule, and it is a good one. 

Other ingredients. Although the materials that have just been discussed 
are all that are used in most concrete, other materials are sometimes added 
or substituted. Stone that has been crushed and screened for concrete making 
is the equivalent of gravel and can be used in place of it. Cinders are widely 
used as the aggregate in making lightweight concrete blocks. Their use in 
home-mixed concrete is always a gamble and should not be attempted in a 
large batch until a small experimental batch has been made and tested. 

166 New Houses from Old 

Cinders as they come from the furnace are never suitable until they have 
been washed and screened. 

Sometimes it is desirable to color cement. Suitable natural pigments and 
manufactured pigments are available for the purpose. Pigments recom- 
mended for the more popular colors are red, red oxide of iron (Indian red) ; 
blue, cobalt blue; green, chromium oxide; gray or black, magnetic black 
oxide of iron. A weight of pigment that equals 10 per cent of the weight of 
the cement used in the mix will produce deep shades; smaller percentages 
will produce light shades. Unless the manufacturer's directions specifically 
recommend a larger proportion, the quantity of pigment should not exceed 
10 per cent. 

Cement and mortar formulas. Cement and mortar formulas are stated in 
volumes rather than in weights and are abbreviated as follows: 1:3:5, which 
means 1 volume Portland cement, 3 volumes sand, 5 volumes gravel. If only 
two numbers appear in the formula, thus 1 : 2, these are read 1 volume Port- 
land cement, 2 volumes sand. However, sometimes three numbers, thus 
1:1:2, may read 1 volume Portland cement, 1 volume hydrated lime (or 
lime paste), 2 volumes sand. In computing volumes, 1 bag of Portland 
cement is always taken to be the equivalent of 1 cu. ft. Sand and gravel 
are usually purchased by the cubic yard (27 cu. ft.), but in some localities 
they are sold by the ton. A ton of sand or crushed stone measures about 22 
cu. ft.; a ton of gravel, 20 cu. ft. 

Estimating quantities. The shape and fineness of the aggregates have a 
considerable effect on the quantities of dry materials needed for a given 
quantity of concrete, consequently none of the several methods of estimating 
gives precise results. Quantities can be estimated approximately from the 
data in Fig. 14.1, which is adapted from a table that appears in several 
publications of the Portland Cement Association. 

Proportioning the water. It is very important not to put too much water 
in concrete and mortar mixes. Five gallons of water for each bag of cement 
is the maximum amount that should be used in concrete prepared for the 
usual jobs in remodeling, such as the making of basement walls, footings 
for posts, concrete floors and walks. If the mix produced with this amount 
is too stiff, decrease the amount of sand slightly; but if it is too wet, decrease 
the amount of water. In preparing mortar, enough water should be added 
to make a workable mass, but mortars should never be sloppy. 

Mixing concrete. The best way to mix concrete is to use a power-driven 
mixer. In many communities the only way to rent a mixer is to hire also 
the man who owns it; but inasmuch as he will be an expert on its operation 
and presumably also on the mixing of concrete, this should be no disad- 
vantage. Ingredients, including water, should be as carefully measured when 

Masonry Work 


Fig. 14.1 
Approximate Amounts in Cubic Feet Required per 100 Sq. Ft. of Surface 


Thickness, inches 














































Thickness, inches 
























a mixer is used as when concrete is hand-mixed. The mixer should not be 
loaded above its rated capacity, and it should be run at least two minutes 
for each batch. A strong, open-bottomed measuring box with handles for 
lifting it will be needed for measuring the sand and gravel. The box may 
have inside measurements of 12 in. deep by 12 in, wide by 12 in. long, thus 
giving it a capacity of 1 cu. ft. The box is used by placing it on the loading 
scoop of the mixer or on the mixing platform if the concrete is to be hand- 
mixed. The sand or gravel is shoveled into it and leveled off; then the box 
is lifted, leaving the aggregate on the platform. The cement need not be meas- 
ured in the box, since a bag contains 1 cu. ft. 

If only a moderate quantity of concrete is needed or if no mixer is avail- 


New Houses from Old 

able, the mixing may be done on a wooden mixing platform. One-inch 
tongued-and-grooved lumber is a good material of which to make the plat- 
form, and 8 ft. by 12 ft. is a convenient size. A smaller size can be used for 
small quantities, and small batches of mortar and grout can be mixed in a 
pail. The procedure for mixing on a platform is as follows. The aggregates 
are measured on the platform. The dry cement is poured over them in a 
fairly uniform layer. The dry pile is turned over with the shovel until no 
streaks of pure cement or uncoated aggregate are visible and the color is uni- 
form. A conical hole is then made in the pile, and the measured water is 
poured into it. The dry materials around the circumference are then shoveled 
into the water in such a way that none of the water is lost. Finally, the wet 
paste is shoveled to distribute the moisture evenly through it. 

Implements used in the mixing should be cleaned thoroughly when the 
work is halted and always before the adhering cement has hardened. A 
mixer can be cleaned by running a batch of clean sand and water through it; 
shovels can be washed with water; and the mixing platform should be 
scraped, then washed. 

I L , 



Fig. 14.2. — A. Cross section of simple stud form for wall. Suitable for use when 
wall to be poured is not over 4 ft. in height and earth is firm enough to serve as 
outer form. B. Plank and stake form for walk or footing. 

Forms for concrete. Typical forms for walks, footings, and walls are 
shown in Figs. 14.2 and 14.4. Vertical forms such as are used for walls must 
be rigid and well braced. A form such as is shown in Fig. 14.4 can be 
braced with stakes or by running 2-by-6's or heavier lumber across the 

Masonry Work 








Fig. 14.3. — Cross section of double form for poured concrete walL Used for walls 
over 4 ft. high or when earth will not serve as outer form. 

excavation to the form for the opposite wall. Enough wires and spreaders 
(Fig. 14.3) should be used so that the forms will not be distorted by the 
weight of the wet concrete. The spreaders are designed to be removed as the 
concrete reaches them in the pouring. A wire attached to each one and tacked 
temporarily to the top of the form will be a safeguard against leaving some 
of them in the concrete. The tie wires are left in the concrete. Forms should 
be made level and plumb before the braces are nailed. 

Openings for pipes can be made by placing in the form a section of pipe 
of a diameter somewhat larger than the pipe that will pass through the 
opening. These sections of pipe remain in the concrete. Boxes of the required 
size and shape are built into the form to make the openings for windows. If 
wooden window frames are to be installed in the finished wall, dovetail- 
shaped wooden blocks are fastened to the outside of the box. These remain 
in the concrete, and the window frames are later attached to them. If metal 
frames are to be used, these are built into the boxes so that their edges pro- 
trude. The exterior surfaces of the boxes should be lightly painted with 
automobile oil to prevent adhesion of concrete to them. The adhesion of 
cement to the form facing also can be prevented by painting the forms with 


New Houses from Old 

used motor oil, but oil should not be used if you plan to apply paint or 
another finish to the concrete or if the oil will interfere with the use of the 
lumber in another part of the remodeling operation. A paste or jelly made 
from laundry soap is somewhat less effective in preventing adhesion but is 
more easily removed from the concrete and the lumber. 

Placing of concrete. Concrete should be placed in the forms within thirty 
minutes after it is mixed. If possible, the work should be planned so that it 
can be completed without interruption. This is particularly important for 
structures that are meant to hold water, as joints between one day's work 
and the next will almost certainly leak. In shallow forms the mix should 
be tamped as it is placed. In deep forms it should be spaded, and if reinforc- 
ing steel is being used, it should be worked with a steel rod. Tamping, spad- 
ing, and rodding are done to eliminate air bubbles and holes and to work 
the mix into all parts of the form. The spade is also used to produce a smooth 
face on the wall. It is inserted next to the face, then rocked backward slightly 




3 X 4 OR 4 X 4 RANGERS 

{No. 8 IRON WIRE ) 



Fig. 14.4. — Detail of inside corner of wall form built on the same principles as the 
form shown in Fig. 14.3. 

Masonry Work 171 

into the wet mix. This forces the coarse aggregates away from the face and 
permits the finer materials to flow in next to it. If it is worked too much, 
wet concrete tends to separate, the water and lighter materials coming to the 
top and forming a scum called laitance on the surface. Spading and rodding 
should, therefore, be limited to the least that is necessary to insure that the 
form is solidly filled. Concrete may separate somewhat if it is jolted over 
rough ground on the way from the mixer to the form. The same effect may 
be produced if it is dropped more than 3 or 4 ft. in placing it in the form. 
Too great a drop can be avoided when a deep form such as a well lining is 
being filled by using a chute or a sheet-metal pipe. 

Damp-curing of concrete. The curing (hardening) of concrete and mortar 
is a chemical process that requires the presence of water. To insure complete 
curing, the surfaces of concrete that are not in contact with forms must be 
kept moist. Horizontal surfaces may be covered with a 1-in. layer of wet 
sand, earth, or sawdust or with a 6-in. layer of wet straw. Vertical surfaces 
should be covered with burlap, old carpeting, or some other textile material, 
which is then kept moist by occasional sprinkling. Concrete and mortar 
made with regular-type Portland cement should be damp-cured for seven 

Finishing concrete. Floors and walks are often placed in two layers, the 
first of which contains a regular concrete mix with some coarse aggregate. 
This layer is then topped, preferably in not less than forty-five minutes, with 
a layer at least % in. thick of a 1:2 mortar mix. If color is desired, either 
colored sand or colored cement can be used in this layer. The top layer is 
struck off level with the top of the form by passing a straight-edged piece 
of lumber over it, using a sawing motion. The surface is then smoothed with 
a wooden float, and finally it can be tooled to mark it off in sections or in 
an irregular pattern. A steel trowel should not be used for the final smooth- 
ing, as it will make a slick surface that will be slippery. If the top layer 
cannot be applied before the base has become hard, before it is topped the 
base should be painted with a grout of straight Portland cement and water. 

Walls and other vertical surfaces can be given a number of attractive 
integral finishes. Using a material such as plywood as facing for the forms 
will produce a smooth surface. Coarse-grained lumber or lumber applied in 
a pattern can be used to produce various novelty effects. Finishing methods 
after the forms are removed include rubbing, hammering, scrubbing, and 
sand-floating. For a rubbed finish, the concrete is allowed to become hard, 
then the surface is wet with water and rubbed with a carborundum block. 
A hammered finish is made by chipping off a thin layer of the surface by 
striking it with a bush hammer. To produce a scrubbed finish, it is necessary 
to remove the forms while the surface of the concrete is still green (slightly 

172 New Houses from Old 

soft). A layer about ^4 6 i"- i^ thickness is then removed by scrubbing with 
a wire brush, thus exposing the coarse aggregate. The forms are also re- 
moved while the concrete is green to produce a sanded finish. Sand is then 
rubbed into the soft surface with a steel trowel or wooden float. A circular 
motion with the tool is necessary to avoid streaks and patterns. 

Even though the concrete is not to be given an integral finish, any holes 
or honeycombed areas that are found when the forms are removed should be 
filled. This is done by dampening the areas, then pressing into them a 1:2 
mortar mix. The patches should be damp-cured, the same as new concrete. 

Concrete can also be painted with various types of paint (Chapter 23), 
and it forms an excellent base for stucco (Chapter 19). 

W atertight concrete. Making concrete so that it will be watertight is de- 
sirable not only in septic tanks and other structures designed to hold water 
but in walls and floors as well, since these are often placed where they must 
resist the passage of water. Many tests have demonstrated that concrete can 
be made watertight if good-quality ingredients are used and are correctly 
proportioned, if the amount of water in the mix is carefully controlled, and 
if the concrete is correctly placed. Many waterproofing compounds that are 
designed to be mixed with the concrete to make it watertight are on the 
market. Those that contain metal stearates of one kind or another will de- 
crease the tendency of water to move through the wall by capillary action, 
but their effectiveness in resisting the passage of flowing water is open to 

Concrete Block and Tile 

The only difference between concrete block and tile is in their dimensions, 
the smaller sizes being called tile. Concrete blocks are useful materials in 
remodeling. They can be used, for example, to build basement walls under 
an existing house. Since no forms are required and the blocks can be handled 
easily by one man, the operation is simpler and less expensive than the 
building of a cast-in-place concrete wall under the sa^fie conditions. Concrete 
block can also be used to build walls above grade and chimneys. Two types 
are available in most localities. The standard type is made of the same ma- 
terials as Portland-cement concrete and is the preferred kind for basement 
walls. The other type is made with cinders or some other lightweight aggre- 
gate and is suitable for walls aboveground, particularly walls that are to be 

Standard sizes are shown in Fig. 14.5, but other sizes and styles may be 
available locally. Estimating the number of blocks needed is best done by 
dividing the number of square inches in the face of one block into the total 



Fig. 14.5. — Standard shapes of concrete block and tile. 

number of square inches in the net area of the walls to be built. The net 
area is found by calculating the gross area of the exterior faces of two 
parallel walls and the gross area of the interior faces of the other two walls 
(thus avoiding counting the corners twice) and deducting the areas of 

The mortar joints are the critical factors in building satisfactory walls of 
concrete block. A 1:3 Portland-cement mortar with hydrated lime not ex- 
ceeding 25 per cent of the cement by volume should be used in joints below 
grade unless the wall is to be coated on the exterior with Portland cement as 
a waterproofing measure, in which case a 1:6 mortar with hydrated lime 
equal to I volume of the cement can be used. The latter mix is satisfactory 
in any case for joints above grade. Mortar is placed only on the ends of the 
blocks and on the edges that parallel the faces. The webs (inner partitions) 
are not coated with mortar, since it is desirable to avoid joints that pass 


New Houses from Old 



Fig. 14.6. — Typical lintels and sills for opening in masonry walls. The concrete 
lintel is visible in the finished wall. The steel lintel is largely concealed. The lug 
sill is used chiefly in new walls, particularly brick walls. The slip sill is used for 
openings cut into old walls and always in stone walls. 

through the wall. Joints should be well filled and joints at the ends shoved 
up tight. Joints below the ground level are usually struck off flush with the 
face of the block. Joints above grade are best made flush if the wall is to be 
stuccoed; otherwise, they should be finished by pressing them with a rounded 
or V-shaped tool. 

Masonry Work 175 

Window frames and doorframes in concrete-block walls are set in special 
jamb units (Fig. 14.5). Precast lintels and sills (Fig. 14.6) are used at the 
tops and bottoms of windows. Steel or wood lintels can also be used. The 
National Concrete Masonry Association's Facts about Concrete Masonry 
shows many constructional details for building with concrete block. 


Brick is an attractive and durable building material; but its use in re- 
modeling is limited in most cases to small operations such as the building 
of walks, chimneys, and fireplaces. It is not a good material for basement 
walls because the large number of mortar joints offers many passages for 
water. If the original house is brick and you wish to build an addition of 
the same material, you are advised to have the work done by experienced 
bricklayers. The building of a brick house may appear easy to an inex- 
perienced onlooker, but the skill that is necessary to lay the wall plumb 
and true, with well-filled and even mortar joints, can be acquired only by 
long experience. On the other hand, there is no reason why you should not 
undertake simple bricklaying jobs that are necessary in your remodeling. 

There are three grades of brick that are of interest in remodeling. Common 
brick is ordinary red brick. Its shade and also its quality vary widely, but 
unless it has been specially manufactured and selected for appearance, it is 
still common brick. Face brick likewise is made in many colors and qualities, 
but its distinguishing characteristic is that it has been manufactured of 
selected materials and by special methods to give it the hardness and attrac- 
tive appearance that are desirable in the face of a wall. Firebrick is made 
of special clays that give it a high degree of resistance to heat. 

Common brick is now usually manufactured in the standard size of 3% 
in. width, 2^ in. thickness, 8 in. length. This is also a standard size for face 
brick, but this brick is still manufactured in a variety of sizes. The standard 
size for firebrick is 4^4 in. width, 2^4 in. thickness, 9 in. length. The simplest 
way of estimating the number of bricks needed for a small structure is to 
calculate the number of cubic feet of brick masonry that will be built. As- 
suming that the mortar joints will average ^ in. in thickness, then for each 
cubic foot of masonry, seventeen and one-tenth standard-size bricks will be 
needed. The number of bricks needed for repairing an existing brick wall is 
usually best estimated by counting. Bricks of odd sizes that are no longer 
manufactured are often found in old brick houses. Some suggestions about 
finding brick to match them have been made in Chapter 3. 

A satisfactory mortar for brick in average construction consists of 1 
volume Portland cement, 1 volume hydrated lime or lime paste, and 6 vol- 


New Houses from Old 

Masonry Work 177 

umes clean sand. A 1 : 3 Portland-cement mortar is better for brick laid in 
walks and also for the portions of chimneys that are exposed to the weather. 
The addition of hydrated lime equal in volume to one-quarter the volume of 
cement will greatly improve the plasticity of this mortar and will not seri- 
ously affect its resistance to the weather. 

Three of the more common ways of laying up brick are illustrated in 
Fig. 14.7. Note that the word "bond," when used in connection with brick- 
laying, has a different meaning than when the word is applied to adhesion, 
as between masonry units and mortar. Three ways of making corners are 
shown in Fig. 14.8. "Closers" can be obtained as stock items from dealers 
in brick. Half-size and three-quarter-size brick ("bats") can be purchased 
or cut on the job. 





Fig. 14.8. — Three ways of forming corners in brick walls. 


New Houses from Old 

In contrast to hollow concrete-block masonry, all joints in brickwork 
should be coinpletely filled. Standard ways of finishing the face joints are 
shown in Fig. 14.9. The flush joint is the easiest to make and is often used 
where appearance of the finished structure is not important. However, it is 
the least satisfactory joint from the standpoint of resistance to water pene- 
tration, because the mortar in it is not compacted and small holes are often 
left unfilled. The weathered joint and struck joint are both made with the 
point of the trowel, which is held at an angle and drawn along the joint 
in such a way as to cut away a strip of mortar. The raked joint is first cut 
off as a flush joint; then after the mortar has partly set, the joint is finished 
with a steel rake. A type of raked joint can be made by using a stick or 
block of wood to remove some of the mortar while it is still quite soft, then 
by brushing the mortar with a stiff fiber brush. The concave joint is attrac- 
tive, has good water resistance, and is easy to make. The joint is first cut 
flush, the mortar is allowed to set partly, then a small strip of board with 
a rounded edge is used to finish the joint. The cross or vertical joints in a 
small section of wall are usually finished first, and the bed joints are done 
second. Flush, weathered, and struck joints are usually made as the bricks 
are laid. Other kinds of joints are finished after several courses of bricks 
are laid in order to give the mortar time to set. 



















' ■ 





Fig. 14.9. — Mortar joints in brickwork. A. Flush joint. 5. Weathered joint. C. 
Struck joint. D. Raked joint. E. Concave joint. The weathered joint and concave 
joint are excellent types because they shed water outward from the wall. 

Masonry Work 




Fig. 14.10. — Line and trig. The trig is unnecessary in building short walls. 

The construction of a typical brick wall is diagramed in Fig. 14.10, which 
shows how the corners are built up ahead of the rest of the wall and how 
they are kept level by use of a line. This line must be a good-quality cord, 
preferably one that has been made for the purpose. Ordinary wrapping 
twine will not do because it is too difficult to keep it taut. The line is held 
by fastening it to two cut nails or to special fasteners that can be purchased. 

In laying up a brick wall that will be exposed to view, dropping of 
mortar on the face of the brick should be avoided as much as possible. After 
the job is finished, mortar stains can be removed with a dilute solution of 
muriatic acid. If it is necessary to halt the work before the structure is 
finished, the top of the wall should be protected from rain by covering it 
with lumber or roll roofing. 


Stone masonry fits into two general types, called ashlar masonry and 
rubble masonry. Ashlar masonry (Fig. 14.11) is made of cut and dressed 
stone. Usually, particularly in recently built houses, ashlar masonry has 
only a stone face that is backed with brick or some other relatively inex- 
pensive material. Ashlar masonry is expensive. The stone must be purchased 
or laboriously dressed on the job. Considerable skill is required to lay up 
such a wall in an attractive pattern, in spite of the comparative regularity 
of the stones. If your remodeling operation requires the construction of this 
type of masonry, the best thing you can do is find the best stonemason in 
the community and give the work to him. 

Rubble masonry is much less expensive in most cases because the stone 
can be had for the cost of picking it up. Stone fences, stream beds, and old 
foundation walls are good sources for it. In rocky regions, such as parts 
of New England, good stone for rubble masonry can be picked up in the 
fields. Rubble-masonry walls are usually all stone. The building of them 
is slow, painstaking work, but some persons with little or no experience 
in masonry have made good jobs of it. 


New Houses from Old 







Fig. 14.11. — Typical stonewall patterns. 

The labor and cost of building rubble masonry can be kept down only 
by having at hand an adequate supply of stone that requires little or no 
shaping or dressing. Stone walls generally offer such a supply, because 
the stones in them have already been selected to a certain extent. Stratified 
stone is an excellent material with which to work because it can be shaped 
with comparative ease, but most rubble-masonry houses are built of field- 
stone (Fig. 14.11). However, rounded fieldstone is a poor material for 
good walls. If possible, stones should be selected that have some flat sur- 
faces and sharp edges. Most stone taken from old walls or picked up in the 
fields or stream beds must be cleaned. Slime, moss, and soil should be re- 
moved by scrubbing the stones with coarse fiber brushes and w^ater; other- 

Masonry Work 


wise, good mortar bonds will not be produced when the stone is built into 
the wall. 

A good mortar mix for stone masonry is 1 volume Portland cement, 1 
volume hydrated lime or lime paste, and 6 volumes clean sand. A thick 
stone wall built of fieldstone requires considerable quantities of mortar. 
About the only way to estimate the quantity is to build a section of wall 
while you keep track of the mortar used, then to make the estimate on the 
basis of the number of cubic feet in this section in comparison with the 
number of cubic feet still to be built. Rubble-masonry walls must be thick. 
The minimum adequate thickness depends, of course, on the weight that the 
wall must bear. Twelve inches is an adequate thickness or width for stone 
walls under frame houses. In houses with stone walls all the way up, 24 in. 
is a good width for the basement portion of the house, 20 in. for the first- 
floor portion, and 16 in. for the second-floor portion. These successive set- 
backs at the various floor levels are made on the inside oi the wall and at 
the right levels to provide bearings for the floor joists. Thicker walls are 
found in many old houses; and in building an addition, you may wish to 
make the new walls the same thickness as the old in order to match the depth 
of the door and window openings. 

It is important to use plenty of bondstones in building the wall. These are 
the stones that extend through the wall from the face to the back. If the 




Fig. 14.12. — Cross section of well-built 
rubble stone wall. 

Fig. 14.13. — Good placing of bond stones 
under an opening in rubble stone wall. 
Bond stones are marked B. 

182 New Houses from Old 

wall is built of stratified, sedimentary stone, a high proportion of the stones 
should run through the wall. If it is built of ordinary fieldstone, there should 
be at least one bondstone in each 10 sq. ft. of the face of the wall. Under 
openings, such as windows, the bondstones should be set so that the sides 
of an equilateral triangle based on the bottom of the opening and drawn 
downward will pass through them (Fig. 14.13). Round stones should not 
be placed in the interior of the wall, and face stones should be selected for 
shape so that they don't depend on the mortar to keep them from falling 
out of the wall. Stones for corners should be specially selected so that good 
bonds will be produced with both of the intersecting walls and so that the 
corners will be square. Some shaping of the cornerstones is usually neces- 
sary. All stones should be placed in the wall so that their stratification, or 
grain, is roughly horizontal rather than vertical. To use the language of 
stonemasons, they should "be laid in their natural beds." 

Stones are placed in the wall by first making a bed of mortar to fit ap- 
proximately the individual stone. Spalls (Fig. 14.12) can be placed where 
they are needed to fill chinks and crevices, but they should not be used instead 
of mortar to support stones. Each individual stone in the wall should be solidly 
surrounded by mortar except at the back and face of the wall. When building 
a wall aboveground, it is a good idea to set posts at the corners and to 
stretch a line between them so that the level of the wall can be checked 
occasionally. As in the building of other masonry walls, the; top of the wall 
should be covered to keep out rain when work is interrupted. 

Window frames and doorframes can be set into the wall as it is built. 
However, if wooden frames are to be used, it is better to build in dovetail- 
shaped nailing blocks to which the frames can be nailed after the mortar 
has cured. Steel or reinforced concrete lintels should be built into the wall 
over openings. If concrete sills are used under windows, precast slip sills 
rather than lug sills should be selected. Slip sills can be placed after the 
wall is completed. Girder pockets should be made if they will be needed, and 
joist anchors should be embedded in the masonry. Openings for electrical 
conduits and plumbing pipes should also be built in. 

Exterior and other exposed surfaces of stone walls can be given a number 
of finishes, such as whitewash or stucco; but since one of the chief reasons 
for building of stone is to have walls that require little maintenance, stone 
walls are usually not given a surface treatment. The mortar joints in the 
face of the wall can be finished flush, but this is not the better method be- 
cause flush joints are somewhat unattractive and also because such joints 
tend to direct rain into the interior of the wall. The better way to finish 
the joints is to strike the mortar out of them to a uniform depth, say % in. 
or 1 in. Special tools are available for finishing mortar joints in other types 

Masonry Work 183 

of masonry, but the best tools for rubble masonry are flat sticks of assorted 
widths, each with a notch on it to mark the desired depth of the joint. The 
mortar is allowed to set for thirty minutes to an hour after a small section 
of wall has been laid, then the sticks are used to compress the mortar in the 
joints and to remove the excess. The face of the wall should be kept as clean 
as possible during the work, because, although spilled mortar can be re- 
moved by washing with muriatic acid, mortar may cause stains on the stone 
that will be difficult or impossible to remove. 

Repairs to Existing Masonry 

Wide cracks that run more or less vertically in masonry walls are usually 
caused by inadequate footings or poor soil conditions under the walls. The 
exact cause should be sought before repairs are attempted. In some cases 
further cracking can be prevented by installing draintile at the base of the 
wall. Inadequate footings under a wall that is laid up in mortar or that is 
built of solid concrete cannot usually be replaced without destroying the 
wall, but the advice of an architect or engineer should always be sought 
in such cases. Cracks that are localized and do not extend to the base of 
the wall are not usually related to foundation defects. 

Cracks in masonry can be repaired by first digging out with a chisel or 
old screw driver all of the old mortar and any other loose material. The 
sides of the crack are then damped and the crack is completely filled with a 
1 : 2 Portland-cement mortar. The mortar should be carefully damp-cured, 
otherwise it will dry out before it sets completely and the repair will fail. 
Portland-cement mortar lacks elasticity, hence vibration of the structure or 
further settling causes this type of repair to fail in a few cases. A commercial 
preparation for which a certain amount of elasticity is claimed has recently 
been introduced, but complete information about it is not available as this 
book is being prepared. Cracks in concrete floors can be filled with asphalt 
or tar preparations. The crack is cleaned out in the same way, but it need 
not be dampened. Rather it should be as dry as possible. The asphalt is 
placed in the crack by pouring it or by troweling it in with a narrow putty 

The outer edges of mortar joints in old masonry are often in bad condi- 
tion. They are repaired by removing all of the loose mortar and by cutting 
the remainder back to a solid edge. The open joint is then dampened and 
fresh mortar pushed into it to completely fill the joint. After the newr mortar 
has been in place for an hour or two, it is compressed and the outer edge 
finished with a jointing tool. Repairing of mortar joints is called "pointing 
up." The cleaning of masonry walls is discussed in the next chapter. 





-EPAIR OR RECONSTRUCTION of the foundation under the house is some- 
times necessary in remodeling. In many cases the necessary repairs are 
minor; in others they amount to an extensive rebuilding of the old founda- 
tion; and in still others a new foundation must be built. 

Fig. 15.1 shows a section of a well-constructed foundation wall for a frame 
house. This figure has been included primarily as a guide to the moderniza- 
tion of foundations and not as a yardstick for judging the quality of an old 
house. Very few houses built more than three decades ago have these fea- 
tures, and you should not expect to find them. 

Many old foundations were built by the so-called "dry-wall" method. The 
"dry" in this term refers to the fact that such a wall is laid up dry — that 
is, without mortar. Modern foundations are built of poured concrete, or of 
stone, or of masonry units, such as brick and concrete block laid up in 

Houses without basements and portions of houses, such as ells, that have 
no basements under them are often supported on piers, which are essen- 
tially posts sunk into the ground. In some old construction, piers were made 
of stone laid dry; but stone laid in mortar and poured concrete are the most 
common materials used for piers at the present time. In cheap construction, 
wood was sometimes used. Wooden piers are often found under old porches, 
and they are the chief reason that so many porches have sagged. 

Structural Repairs to Old Foundations 

If the house you are remodeling has a dry-wall foundation that is in 
good condition, you will not need to reconstruct it unless you wish to make 
the basement dry in order to install a heating plant or to use it for a recrea- 
tion room. On well-drained sites, it may not even be necessary to rebuild 
it to keep out water. Methods for making a dry wall resistant to the passage 
of water are described below under Dampproofing and Waterproofing. 

Sometimes a dry-wall foundation will be in fairly good condition but will 







OF BOLT 1/2 IN. 






Fig. 15.1. — Details of a well-built house foundation. 

not be holding the house level either because the top of the wall was not 
accurately leveled when it was first made or because at some time in the life 
of the house portions of the wall have caved in and been laid up again 
without making them level with the adjacent parts of the wall. The house 
sill may be bowed down over such spots. These places can usually be fixed 
by driving the sill up with wedges or by jacking it up. If jacking is neces 
sary, a piece of heavy timber is placed under the deepest part of the bow 
Jacks are then placed under each end of the timber, one jack in an excava 
tion outside the wall, the other jack on shoring built up in the basement 
The jacks are screwed up simultaneously until the sill is level horizon 
tally. Several courses of the wall are then taken down under the low 
spot and the stones are laid up again in good beds of mortar. After the 
mortar has hardened for about a week, the jacks can be removed. The hole 
that was occupied by the timber is then filled in with stones and mortar. 

186 New Houses from Old 

Foundation walls that are made of masonry units, such as brick or hollow 
concrete block, are usually level. However, they may be cracked, or the 
mortar joints may be failing. The repairing of such defects is discussed in 
Chapter 14. 

Dampproofing and Waterproofing 

Architects and builders distinguish between dampproofing and water- 
proofing in this way. Dampproofing is designed to reduce the passage of 
water through the wall by capillary action — that is, water carried through 
the wall as water is carried upward in a wick. Waterproofing "is designed to 
prevent a flow of running water through the wall as, for example, when 
water from the eaves or melting snow pours into the soil outside the wall. 
Dampproofing measures are sufficient for basements built on sites with 
average drainage. Waterproofing measures are necessary when the basement 
is constructed in a poorly drained site and, sometimes, when the house is 
located on a sloping hill down which water flows in wet seasons. 

One of the most effective and least costly things that can be done to keep 
water out of a basement is the installation of a line of draintile around the 
foundation at its base. Tile with plain ends, the so-called drainage tile, is 
used. Such tile is available made of impregnated fiber, of fired clay, and of 
concrete. All of these materials are durable, hence the selection can be made 
on the basis of availability and cost. The line is laid on a slight grade, 3 to 
5 in. per 100 ft. It should terminate in an open outlet or in dry soil at least 
8 ft. from the wall. The joints in the line are left open but are wrapped with 
strips of roofing paper to keep out silt. Often no other measures are neces- 
sary to keep Avater out of the basement. In fact, some basements are rendered 
reasonably dry by the installation of such a line of tile inside the basement 
at the base of the foundation. 

If the line is placed outside, coating of the exterior of the wall at the 
same time should be considered. A very good coating material for basement 
walls is a 1:2 Portland-cement mortar mix. Before this mix is applied, 
cracks and holes in the wall should be repaired (Chapter 14). The outer 
surface of the wall is scrubbed with water and a coarse fiber brush to remove 
all of the adhering soil. The mortar mix is then applied to the wall by 
plastering it on evenly with a trowel. A first coat about % in. thick is ap- 
plied and is damp-cured for about three days. A second coat of the same 
thickness is then applied over the first. This coat should be damp-cured for 
about twenty-four hours or until it is firm to the touch. Then the trench 
can be filled. If the filling material is dry, it should be moistened as it is 
placed in order to continue the damp-curing of the cement plaster. 

Foundations 187 

The Portland-cement coating has a very high degree of water resistance 
if it is properly applied, but if the wall settles after the plaster is applied, 
cracks will develop. A few narrow cracks are not serious if the site is well 
drained, but they will leak badly if the wall is subject to the pressure of 
standing or flowing water. An asphalt coating is equally effective as a barrier 
to water, and it has considerable elasticity, enough so that it will not be 
broken by fine cracks that develop in the wall. A wide crack in the masonry 
will, of course, rupture it. At one time it was necessary to heat the asphalt 
and to spray or brush it on the wall while it was still hot. Now, asphalt 
preparations are available that can be applied without heating. The wall 
is prepared in the same way as for the Portland-cement coating. Then the 
asphalt preparation is sprayed or brushed on. Manufacturer's directions for 
the number of coats and other details of application should be followed. 

Where soil-water conditions are unusually severe, a built-up membrane 
is applied to the wall and in some cases under the basement floor as well. 
These built-up membranes are made by lapping layers of special textile 
materials or roofing felt. Each layer is coated with asphalt as it is placed. 
This type of waterproofing is expensive, and it is not effective unless the 
work is carefully done. The operation should always be in charge of an 
expert. Preferably specifications for it should be drawn up by an architect 
and the work done under contract. 

Obviously, if the foundation does not require structural reconstruction, it 
is much easier to apply dampproofing or waterproofing on the inside of the 
basement wall than on the outside. Dozens of commercial dampproofing and 
waterproofing compounds are on the market that are designed to be applied 
to the inside of basement walls. The question that you will want answered, 
if you do not want to go to the work or expense of digging the soil away 
from the exterior of the wall, is whether these compounds or other inside 
waterproofing are effective. The truth is that it is not difficult to apply 
materials to the inside of a basement wall that will temporarily halt the 
passage even of flowing water through it. However, the water will be dammed 
up in the wall. If the wall or even its upper portion is subjected to freezing 
temperatures, the water will freeze and may do serious damage to the 
masonry. Another thing that may occur with flexible materials is the forma- 
tion on the interior of the wall of blisters, which eventually break. 

Portland-cement plaster and asphalt coatings can be applied to the inside 
of the wall as well as to the outside. If the basement is to be heated in cold 
weather and the soil around the basement is well drained, they will keep 
water out of the basement. On the other hand, if the basement is not heated 
or if enough water accumulates to create hydrostatic pressure in the wall, 

188 New Houses from Old 

interior coatings of these materials or of any other water-resistant material 
usually fail. 

Constructing New Foundations under Existing Houses 

It is not uncommon to find that an old foundation is failing in its chief 
function, that of supporting the house. Dry stone walls, particularly, are 
prone to cave-ins due to the pressure of soil or freezing water behind them. 
The old way of repairing such cave-ins was to lay the wall up again, using 
the same stones and usually laying them again without mortar. This proce- 
dure is not recommended unless you are going to make only temporary use 
of the house. 

The best way to repair a dry-wall foundation that has partly caved in or 
that is leaning inward is to take it down and rebuild it. This operation can 
be carried out in two ways. The first and best is to shore the house up so 
that it does not require the support of the foundation. The old wall is then 
taken down and piled in the basement. The top stones should be placed on 
the floor of the basement, the next course of stones is then placed on them, 
and this procedure is repeated until the wall is taken down to the footing 
stones. In other words, the old wall is turned upside down. The reason for 
doing this is that the stones in the original wall will have been selected to 
fit together more or less. Keeping them in order will save the work of select- 
ing them again for size and shape. 

The old wall will probably have a base of large footing stones. These 
can be left in place, but the soil should be cleaned out around their sides 
and the stones thoroughly washed. From this point on the rebuilding of the 
wall in mortar proceeds in the same way as the laying up of any rubble- 
masonry wall (Chapter 14). 

The other way of rebuilding a dry stone wall is to work progressively 
around the wall, taking the old wall down, cleaning the stones, and imme- 
diately relaying them in the new part of the wall. Working space is made 
by first removing a section of wall from 3 to 4 ft. wide and piling these 
stones in the basement. This method is economical of time only when the 
stones are fairly regular in shape and are small enough to be handled by 
one or two men. Since the order of the stones is upset, it is necessary to 
select them again for size. When the wall is rebuilt by this method, the 
house usually does not have to be raised completely from the foundation. 
Instead, only the portion that is being worked under is jacked just enough 
to lift the sill a few inches from the top of the wall. It is not possible to get 
so good a joint between the sill and the top of the wall, but small cracks 
can be filled with mortar or a calking compound after the wall is rebuilt. 

Foundations 189 

In some cases, the foundation walls must be constructed of new materials. 
Although most stone foundation walls under old houses were built of selected 
stone, occasionally old dry walls are found that were built of any stone 
that was at hand. The old builder simply piled the stone up into a massive 
wall that stood by virtue of sheer weight. Such a wall cannot be rebuilt 
economically because, for one thing, the amount of mortar required would 
cost more than the materials for a completely new wall. New materials are 
also required when a wall built of other masonry materials, such as brick, 
has failed badly. The best thing to do in such cases is to have the house 
raised and shored up. The old walls are removed completely, then new 
walls are built of concrete block or stone laid in mortar. Poured concrete is 
sometimes used, but the building of such a foundation under an existing 
house is complicated. The shoring interferes with the construction and plac- 
ing of forms. Pouring of the concrete, and spading and tamping it in the 
forms go slowly because the house itself is in the way. 

Footings. Footings are often omitted under poured-concrete foundation 
walls if the house is of frame construction, if the walls will not be less than 
12 in. thick, and if the soil under them has good load-bearing capacity. 
However, a poured-concrete footing is necessary under a masonry-unit wall if 
only to provide a solid, level base for the first course of units. Footings 
under frame houses, which are comparatively light in weight, are usually 
designed by rule of thumb. A good rule for the dimensions of an adequate 
footing is to project the footing on both sides of the wall a distance that is 
equal to one-half the thickness of the wall and to make its depth equal to 
one-half its spread. Thus the footing under a 12-in. wall would be 24 in. 
wide and 12 in. deep. However, some footings are built that are only as 
wide as the wall itself, and many are made only wide enough to give a 3- or 
4-in. projection on both sides of the wall. 

The bearing capacities of various soils per square foot are usually taken 
as follows: soft clay, 1 ton; wet sand, 2 tons; firm clay, 2 tons; mixed or 
layered sand and clay, 2 tons; fine, dry sand, 3 tons; coarse sand, 4 tons; 
gravel, 6 tons; hardpan, 10 tons; medium rock, 15 tons. The weight of an 
old house can be estimated with fair accuracy only by an expert, but few 
two-story frame houses with masonry foundation walls impose a weight of 
more than 1% tons per sq. ft. on the base of the wall. In most cases, the 
required area of footings in relation to the bearing capacity of the soil can 
safely be calculated on the basis of this weight. The presence of different 
types of soil, such as wet clay under one corner of the house and hardpan 
at the other, complicates the figuring of the footing dimensions. In such a 
case, the calculations should be made by an architect or engineer. Skimping 
on the footings never pays, because it costs little to make them large enough 

190 New Houses from Old 

when they are built, and it may cost a good deal to repair the damage 
caused by a foundation that settles unevenly. 

The position of the footing can be found easily by suspending plumb 
lines from the corners of the raised house. Footings are sometimes poured 
into a trench cut in the soil, but a better method is to use a form made of 
planks nailed to stakes (Fig. 14.2). The soil on which the footing is to be 
placed should be made as level as possible, but it should not be loosened, 
as it is quite important to pour the footing on undisturbed soil. Stones that 
are embedded in the soil between the planks present a real problem. In 
most cases it is better to leave them where they are if after the footing is 
poured there will be 2 or 3 in. of concrete over them. Stones that will 
project through the concrete must be removed, but the holes should be 
filled with tamped concrete rather than soil. A 1:3:5 concrete mix is satis- 
factory for footings. Building of the wall can be started as soon as the 
concrete in the footing has hardened enough so that it does not dent when 
walked on, usually a period of twenty-four hours. 

Building a concrete-block foundation wall. Standard dimensions and other 
details of concrete block have been given in Chapter 14. The first step in 
the building of the wall is to locate the corners by dropping plumb lines 
from the outside corners of the house sills. Two or three courses of blocks 
are then laid at the corners. Corner blocks with one closed end can be 
used, but the open-end blocks are satisfactory below ground in corners that 
will be concealed from view. A line of blocks is next placed along the foot- 
ing between two corners, and their positions are adjusted so that the stretch 
of wall is filled with a given number of blocks, with or without a half block 
as the need may be. This step avoids the breaking of blocks or the making 
of joints that are too wide when the blocks are set in mortar. Once the line 
of blocks has been adjusted to fit the space, the positions of the vertical 
joints are marked on the footing with chalk and the blocks are lifted off. 

Mortar formulas for joints in concrete block and the joints themselves 
are discussed in Chapter 14. The footing should be grouted with Portland 
cement mixed with water just in advance of the placing of the blocks in 
the first course. Mortar joints that are wider than % in. should be avoided 
in basement walls made of hollow concrete block. In the portions of the 
wall that are below grade, mortar joints should not extend through the wall. 

The second course of blocks is laid so that the vertical joints come half- 
way between the vertical joints in the first course. This breaking of the 
vertical joints is continued all the way up the wall. A line stretched between 
the corners of the wall (Fig. 14.10) will aid in keeping the wall level, or 
a home-made T-square can be used for the same purpose. 

Foundations 191 

Foundation Details 

The rebuilding of an existing foundation and the construction of an en- 
tirely new one both provide the opportunity to include desirable features 
that were not present in the original wall. Anchor bolts (Fig. 15.1) for the 
sills are now incorporated in the foundations of most new frame houses. 
They should be spaced not farther than 8 ft. apart around the wall. Lining 
up these anchor bolts for an existing house requires careful workmanship. 
The holes for the bolts are bored upward through the sill after the house 
is raised and before building of the new wall is started. The holes should be 
at least % in. larger in diameter than the bolts. When the wall has been 
built up to the level where the bolts are to be installed, plumb lines are 
suspended through the holes to find the bolt positions. If possible, the build- 
ing of the top courses of the wall and the lowering of the house should be 
planned so that the sill can be placed on the foundation before the mortar 
in the wall has set hard. If this can be done, bolts that prove to be a little 
out of line can be tapped into position with a hammer. The full weight of 
the house should not be placed on the foundation at this time. Instead the 
house is lowered only until the sill just makes contact with the wall. Wash- 
ers and nuts then are placed on the bolts and the latter turned down by 
hand. After the wall has cured for a week, the lowering can be completed 
and the nuts then turned down tight with a wrench. 

Unless the sill makes a tight joint with the foundation wall, wind will 
blow into the basement and will chill the house in cold weather. Old farm- 
houses are customarily "banked" in the winter because this joint is not 
tight. The top of a stone wall should be made as level as possible by care- 
ful selection of the last course or two of stones. The top of a concrete-block 
wall is prepared for leveling by filling the cells of the last course of blocks 
solidly with mortar. Then on either type of wall a layer of mortar about 2 
in. thick is placed on top of the masonry. It is a good idea to embed a strip 
of galvanized wire fabric (often sold as hardware cloth) in this mortar. 
The house is let down on the layer of mortar while it is still plastic. The 
full weight of the house is not put on the wall at once; rather the lowering 
is carried out in two stages as described above. If termite shields (see be- 
low) are to be installed, they are placed before the house is lowered. 

A line of draintile and an exterior waterproofing coating can be in- 
stalled after the foundation walls are completed, but the line of tile can be 
placed before the wall is built if you wish. If no exterior coating is to be 
applied, some excavating can be saved this way, since the soil outside the 
wall need only be dug back 1 ft. or so to give room for the footing and the 

192 New Houses from Old 

tile. Application of an exterior waterproofing coating from the inside as the 
wall is built is not practical. Such a coating must be applied from the out- 
side after the wall is built, and enough excavation to provide working space 
will be necessary. 

Other details that must be remembered in connection with the foundation 
are openings for doors and windows, water-supply- and plumbing-system 
pipes, openings for electrical conduits, a coal chute if solid fuel is to be 
burned, a filler pipe and a vent pipe for the fuel-oil tank if one is to be 
installed in the basement. Methods of making such openings have been 
indicated in Chapter 14. 

Foundation Widths 

The necessary thickness of the foundation wall depends on the weight of 
the structure that it must support. For a frame house only one story high, 
a wall made either of poured concrete or of hollow concrete block need be 
only 8 in. thick, but a wall made of stone placed in mortar should be at 
least 12 in. thick. For frame houses two stories in height, recommended 
minimum thicknesses are 10 in. for poured concrete, 12 in. for hollow con- 
crete block, and 20 in. for stone laid in masonry. If building in your locality 
is regulated by a building code, the minimum thicknesses of foundation 
walls will probably be stipulated by the code. 

Footings under Posts 

The exterior walls of the house are supported by the foundation; but in 
most houses from one-quarter to about half of the weight of the interior is 
borne by the posts under the girders in the basement. These posts and their 
footings are important parts of the structure of the house ; but in many houses, 
both new and old, they are far from adequate. In fact, in some old houses, par- 
ticularly farmhouses, the only footing under the posts is a small stone stand- 
ing in wet soil. The required areas of footings should be figured by an expert 
if possible; but since experts are not always available and many builders are 
inclined to size the footings by rule of thumb, it is well to know how to 
make the calculation yourself. 

The method can be illustrated best by taking a specific example of a 
house which has two stories and an attic and which is 25 ft. wide by 30 ft. 
long. In such a house the weight on the floors, including the dead load (the 
weight of the structure itself) plus the live load (the weight of the furniture 
and occupants), can be assumed to be 50 lb. per sq. ft. for the first and 
second floors and 20 lb. per sq. ft. for the attic floor. The estimated total 

Foundations 193 

weight of the house is calculated thus : 25 X 30 X 50 X 2 plus 25 X 30 X 
20 = 90,000 lb. Of this weight it is practical to assume that one-half, or 
45,000 lb., must be supported by the post footings. As has been pointed out 
earlier in this chapter, soils vary considerably in their load-bearing capaci- 
ties; but the soil under this house is a firm clay with an assumed capacity 
of 2,000 lb. per sq. ft. The footings should, therefore, have an area of 
45,000 -i- 2,000 = 22.5 sq. ft. The basement is laid out so that three evenly 
spaced posts can be placed under the girder. The footing under each one 
should have, therefore, an area of at least 7.5 sq. ft. each. To be on the safe 
side, they will be made 2 ft. by 10 in. square. 

In larger houses, and also in houses with massive interior framing, the 
weight that must be supported by the footings is sometimes considerably 
greater. If you cannot have the figuring done by an expert, the best thing 
to do in such cases is to make a calculation in the way that has been out- 
lined and then to increase the calculated minimum area by 25 or 50 per 
cent. Footings are comparatively inexpensive to make, hence nothing is lost 
by making them somewhat larger than is necessary. Footings need be only 
10 to 15 in. deep ; and a 1:3:5 Portland-cement concrete mix is satisfactory 
for them. Footings should be placed on firm, undisturbed soil. Don't base 
them on a concrete floor even though it appears to be in good condition. 
The spacing of posts and footings in relation to girders is discussed in 
Chapter 17. 

Pier Foundations 

Sometimes the piers under an old house will be out of plumb due to 
settling or to the house having been subjected to an extraordinarily strong 
wind. Solid concrete piers can sometimes be shoved back into position with 
a jack, but piers of stone or of masonry units must be rebuilt. Minimum 
cross-sectional areas for piers under light houses are as follows: poured 
concrete, 10 in.; brick, 12 in.; concrete block, 16 in. Under light frame 
houses, piers should be spaced not farther apart than 8 ft. on center under 
sills that support joists and not farther apart than 12 ft. on center under 
sills that run parallel to joists. 

If you build an addition to the house and decide to support it on piers, it 
is necessary to make the piers high enough above the ground to provide a 
"crawl space" under the first floor. This space is necessary so that the under- 
side of the framing can be inspected occasionally for decay and termite 
damage. Adequate ventilation of the space is also necessary. This is usually 
provided for by leaving openings in the wall, which are fitted with screens to 
keep out small animals. The area of the ventilators can be computed by 

194 New Houses from Old 

this rule: 2 sq. ft. of ventilator area for each 100 ft. of perimeter and an 
additional 0.5 sq. ft. for each 100 sq. ft. of area of the basementless space. 

However, even when ventilators of adequate area are provided, they do 
not always remain effective. Vines and shrubbery grow over them, and it is 
human nature to cover them in the winter to keep the floors of the house 
from becoming cold. The result is that the joists and other wooden parts of 
the house that are exposed underneath the house are subject to high humidity 
for long periods of time. Recent experiments have indicated that this condi- 
tion can be cured rather simply by covering the soil under the house with 
asphalt roofing paper. The paper is rolled out on top of the soil, the seams 
are lapped, but they do not have to be cemented. 

Wooden siding should never be in contact with the ground. Therefore, 
when a house is supported on piers, the area between the ground and the 
house sills should be enclosed with some other type of material. A curtain 
wall of masonry units, such as brick or concrete block, is often used. Also, 
there are several types of impregnated fiber or mineral sheathing that are 
satisfactory for such enclosures. 

Termite Protection 

Although the proportion of houses infested with termites in the United 
States is not high, there are enough cases of infestation to make the inclu- 
sion of termite protection worth while when foundations are repaired or new 
foundations are built in remodeling. 

Dry-wood termites are found in the southern coastal regions of the United 
States. Once dry-wood termites have gained access to a building, the only 
remedies are poisoning the colony and replacing the parts of the house that 
have been extensively damaged. The extermination of the colony must be 
done by someone experienced in the operation if it is to be complete. Dry- 
wood termites can be kept out of buildings only by building and maintaining 
the house so that there are no cracks or unpainted wood exposed on the 
exterior. Joints in siding and other exterior wooden surfaces must be tight. 
Ventilators, windows, and doors must be kept screened. When new wood 
is applied to the exterior, it must be painted promptly after installation, then 
kept painted. 

The subterranean termite is more widespread than the dry-wood termite 
and causes much more damage to buildings. Detecting the presence of sub- 
terranean termites is discussed in Chapter 4, and pictures of termite shelter 
tubes and damage are shown in Figs. 4.1 and 4.2. Damage already done by 
termites to wooden parts of the house can be repaired only by removing the 
damaged wood and replacing it with new. Whether this operation will be 









2t* 2f- 






14" I4"X96" C.R. SHEET 

16" I6"X96" II 

18" I8"X96" 11 

22" 22"X96" 11 











T 1t1t1t1t .4"RT 




^20.0Z. C.R. COPPER 












:a\ °\' '■■'-:^ i ■.■■'. 'J'4 

A ■ ;■■■/«.■-■■: 

A B 


{Courtesy Copper and Brass Research Association.) 

Fig. 15.2. 


New Houses from Old 





(^Courtesy Copper and Brass Research Association.) 
Fig. 15.3. — Termite shields. 

worth while depends on the value of the house and, also, on the extent of the 
damage. Usually, however, termite infestation is discovered before the 
structure of the house is damaged so extensively that repairs are not justified. 
The repairing of termite damage should go hand in hand with the correc- 
tion of the faulty elements in the construction that permitted the termites 
to infest the structure. Even if the house is not infested with termites, safe- 
guards against infestation should be incorporated in any remodeling pro- 
gram that involves work on the foundations or sills if other houses in the 
region are infested. 

Termites cannot live long in the dry wooden parts of a house unless they 
have access to moisture. Although a few cases have been reported where 
termite colonies sustained themselves with moisture from dripping pipes, 
subterranean termites usually obtain the moisture that is necessary for them 
to continue to live from the soil under or around the house. In most cases, 
they reach the soil through wooden parts of the house that are in contact 
with it, but they can also reach it through dry-wall stone foundations and 
through other types of foundations that are not solidly built. 

The standard method of termite protection is placing metal barriers 
called termite shields on top of the foundation walls and at other points 



where the wood of the house comes in contact with wood or masonry that 
is embedded in the soil. Soil poisons, which are frequently used after a 
termite infestation is discovered, are only temporarily effective. Figs. 15.2 
and 15.4 show standard types of shields and typical installation details. 
In Fig. 15.2, the abbreviation C.R. stands for cold rolled, and the abbrevia- 
tion R.T. stands for roofing temper. 




il. ■ 












{■.: . .■ ) 







{Courtesy Copper and Brass Research Association.) 
Fig. 15.4. — Termite shields. 

198 New Houses from Old 

The barrier type of shield is used on top of foundation walls and at other 
places where occasional inspection of the shield would be difficult. Termites 
are unable to build their shelter tubes over the projecting lip of this type 
of shield, hence if it is properly installed, it offers complete protection. 
Where sill anchor bolts pass through barrier shields, the space between the 
shield and the bolt should be solidly filled. Asphalt or pitch is a suitable 
material, or the opening -can be filled with a copper washer held in place 
by two nuts, as illustrated in detail A in Fig. 15.2. Deflector shields are 
just as effective as barrier shields if they are inspected occasionally for 
termite shelter tubes. Shields of either type can be included in such re- 
modeling operations as the rebuilding or construction of foundation walls 
and the installation of new footings and posts under girders. Openings in 
the basement floor or foundation walls around pipes or conduits that are 
in contact with the soil should be filled with asphalt or pitch, or f this is 
not practical, circular termite shields should be placed on the pipes and 

Wood that must be placed in contact with the ground should be treated 
to render it repellent or poisonous to termites. Creosote is commonly used 
for such treatment, but it is effective only when it is applied with special 
commercial equipment. Home treatment that consists of brushing creosote on 
the exterior of untreated lumber is worthless. The disadvantage in using 
treated lumber in remodeling is that the lumber should be treated after 
being cut to the dimensions in which it will be used. It is usually possible to 
purchase treated lumber in dimensions suitable for sills and girders, but it is 
difficult to purchase small sizes suitable for the construction of such things 
as trellises and steps. If treated lumber must be cut after it is purchased, 
the cut ends should be painted with creosote or some other termite repellent. 

Since termites can gain access to the house through any wooden structure 
that is in contact with both the soil and the house, special attention must 
be given to such structures as wooden steps, porches, and supports for vines 
and bushes. Properly constructed masonry steps do not constitute a termite 
hazard, but if your house has a wooden porch or steps that you wish to 
retain, the supports under them should be capped with termite shields. 
Trellises that are in contact with the house can be made safe by basing 
them on small piers that are capped with the barrier type of termite shields. 

If the house, or part of it, is over an unexcavated area, the unexcavated 
area should be completely cleared of wood and scrap lumber. The distance 
from the soil level to the termite shields on foundation walls or piers in an 
unexcavated area should be at least 18 in. Even with such protection, it 
will be well to inspect the walls and piers at least once a year for termite 
shelter tubes. 



Chimneys and Fireplaces 

i\.LTHOUGH THERE ARE many well-built old chimneys, there are also many 
that must be thoroughly repaired or reconstructed to make them function 
satisfactorily and to render them safe. When an old house is remodeled, the 
chimney work should not be skimped, for the condition of the chimneys 
may determine whether you will be able to enjoy the house a reasonable 
number of years or whether you will lose it in a fire. New chimneys built as 
part of the remodeling program must be constructed according to the local 
building code if there is one. Even though there are no code requirements 
to be met, both the building of new chimneys and the repair of old ones 
should be done according to good standards. The National Board of Fire 
Underwriters' A Standard Ordinance for Chimney Construction is the stand- 
ard guide to good principles of chimney and fireplace structural design. 

Chimney Elements 

The elements of a typical house chimney that contains a flue for the heat- 
ing plant, a fireplace and its flue, and a third flue for the kitchen range are 
diagramed in Fig. 16.1. Such a chimney in a frame house usually stands on 
an independent footing made of poured concrete. The footing should be 
located so that its top is at least 6 in. below the frost line. Recommended 
minimum dimensions on undisturbed soils of good bearing capacity (Chap- 
ter 15) are as follows: a depth of 8 in. for chimneys up to 15 ft. in height, 
12 in. for chimneys 16 to 30 ft. in height, and 16 in. for chimneys 31 to 45 
ft. in height; and a horizontal area that will provide a projection on all 
sides of the chimney of at least 6 in. Chimney footings that must be placed 
on permanently wet soil or on filled land should be designed by an expert. 

In masonry houses, chimneys are sometimes supported by the wall or are 
built directly into it. A common type of support, especially for chimneys 
that start above the level of the first floor, is made by corbeling out the wall. 
In order for this construction to be safe, the wall must be solid and at least 
12 in. thick, the corbeling must be done so that no course of masonry 



New Houses from Old 























(CoJirtcsy National Board of fire Undcrzcriters.) 

Fig. 16.1. — Elevation and section of an interior independent chimney showing 
recommended construction. For details of framing around the chimney, see Figs. 
17.14 and 17.15. 

Chimneys and Fireplaces 201 

projects more than 1 in. over the course immediately below it, and the total 
projection of the wall must not be more than 8 in. In many old masonry 
houses, the chimney was constructed by making the wall extra thick and by 
building the flues within it. Chimneys of this type are shown in Figs. 2.27 
and 2.28. The most inadequate type of footing or support found in old 
chimneys is the wooden beam, a kind of support that is found too often in 
old frame houses. There is no way to make such a chimney safe. Instead, it 
should be torn down and the materials used to build another chimney, unless 
the chimney can be dispensed with altogether. 

Chimney materials. Good-quality masonry materials should be used to 
build the chimney. Brick is the most popular material not only because of 
its attractiveness but also because it is easily built into chimneys. Special 
chimney brick is available, but ordinary building brick is commonly used, 
hard-burned face brick for exposed exterior walls and tops and good-quality 
common brick for walls that are not exposed to the weather. Chimneys are 
also built of reinforced concrete, concrete block, structural clay tile, and 
stone. It is seldom economical to build a single chimney of reinforced con- 
crete because of the cost of the forms that are required. Concrete chimney 
block is solid and is manufactured in special sizes for use in chimneys. It is 
an excellent material for interior chimneys, since the units are regular in 
size, easy to handle, and laid up in mortar similarly to brick. Structural clay- 
tile chimneys are usually built only as integral parts of walls of the same 

Stone chimneys can be made of either cut and dressed stone (ashlar 
masonry) or fieldstone (rubble masonry). Although cut stone is relatively 
expensive, the quantity needed for the average chimney is not large, and 
some of the material cost is returned in labor saving, for cut stone lays up 
rapidly in a chimney. The stone for rubble-masonry chimneys should be 
carefully selected, and particular attention must be paid to good bonding. 

Recommended mortar formulas for chimney joints are as follows: por- 
tions of the chimney that are exposed to the weather, 1 volume Portland 
cement, ^ volume hydrated lime or lime paste, 3 volumes clean sand; joints 
in flue linings, 1 volume Portland cement, 3 volumes clean sand; joints in 
firebrick as in the lining of fireplaces, fire clay; for all other parts of the 
chimney, 1 volume Portland cement, 1 volume hydrated lime or lime paste, 
6 volumes clean sand. All mortar beds in masonry chimneys should be 
solid, and spaces between flue linings and masonry should also be solidly 

Flues. The flues in the chimney must have cross-sectional areas large 
enough for the heating equipment that they will serve. Many manufacturers 
of furnaces and boilers specify a minimum flue area for their equipment, 


New Houses from Old 

and often they will not guarantee satisfactory operation if the flue is smaller. 
In general, a flue with an area of at least 70 sq. in. is required for central 
heating plants, but this area should be increased if a larger area is recom- 
mended by the manufacturer of the heating plant that you will install. Fur- 
naces or boilers fueled with oil, gas, or anthracite coal will operate satis- 
factorily with a relatively small flue, but a larger flue may be required if it 
is necessary to convert the system to burn bituminous coal or wood; hence, 
when a new chimney is built or an old one reconstructed, it may be prudent 
to install a flue larger than the minimum size that is needed at the time. 
The minimum flue area for a cooking or heating stove that burns coal or 
wood is 40 sq. in.; for a gas- or oil-burning range or hot-water heater, 10 
sq. in. Minimum flue areas for fireplaces are computed as follows: 50 sq. 
in. or an area equal to one-twelfth of the fireplace opening, whichever is 

A fire-clay flue lining should always be included in a new chimney or in 
one that is extensively rebuilt. Such linings are manufactured in both round 
and rectangular shapes. The rectangular shapes are more popular for house 
chimneys, partly because it is easier to build small chimneys around them. 
However, since smoke traveling upward in a flue moves in a spiral, the 
entire inside area of a rectangular lining is not effective. Joints in flue 

Fig. 16.2 
Effective Areas of Some Standard Flue Linings 

Rectangular linings 

Round linings 






area, square 


area, square 





73^ by 7K 




8^ by 8>^ 




8>^ by 13 




83^ by 17H 




13 by 13 




13 by 173^ 


linings should be staggered so that no joint in one flue is closer than 7 in. 
to a joint in an adjacent flue. Turns or offsets in flues must be managed 
so that the area of the flue is not reduced at any point. Turns greater than 
30° from the vertical should be avoided. 

Chimney dimensions. Theoretically, the best height for chimneys is deter- 
mined by such matters as the altitude and whether the heating appliance 

Chimneys and Fireplaces 203 

attached to the chimney burns by mechanical or natural draft. Practically, 
chimney heights are usually determined by the height of the house. The 
chimney should project at least 2 ft. above the highest point of the roof of 
the house, and this requirement should be met even though the chimney 
is attached to a one-story ell of a two-story house. Fortunately, on most 
houses building the chimney at least 2 ft. above the roof gives it a height 
of from 30 to 35 ft., which is adequate for a good draft at average altitudes. 

Recommended minimum wall thicknesses for lined chimneys are as fol- 
lows: reinforced concrete, brick, solid concrete block, and ashlar masonry, 
3% in.; rubble masonry, 12 in. If linings are omitted, these thicknesses must 
be approximately doubled if the chimney is built of one of the materials in 
the first group and increased by one-half for rubble masonry. Often wall 
thicknesses must be increased for structural or architectural reasons. Fig. 
16.1 shows how the inclusion of a fireplace makes it necessary to increase 
the thickness of at least the walls in the lower portion of the chimney. 

Chimney accessories. Smoke-pipe thimbles and cleanout doors should be 
set into the masonry when the chimney is built. Thimbles are made of metal 
(usually cast iron) or of fire clay. The diameter of the opening in the 
thimble should fit the smoke pipe that will be used. The length of the 
thimble should match the thickness of the chimney wall so that the masonry 
will be covered but so that the end of the thimble will not project into the 
chimney. The joint between the masonry and the thimble should be filled 
with fire clay. Cleanout doors are usually of cast iron and have cast-iron 
frames that are set directly in the masonry. Chimney flashing is discussed 
in Chapter 18. 

Smoke tests. A new chimney or an old one that has been rebuilt should 
be given a smoke test before being put to use. A smoky fire of damp straw 
or wood is built in a heating device or a fireplace connected to the base of 
the flue. After the smoke is rising well, the top of the chimney is plugged 
with wet sacking, then the entire length of the chimney is inspected for 
leaks. If a leak is found, the crack should be repaired before the chimney 
is put to use. If there is more than one flue in the chimney, the flues should 
be tested separately. While the smoke-filled flue is plugged, the other flues 
should be observed. If smoke comes from them, it indicates a leak between 
the flues that must be remedied. 


Many building codes require venting for gas-fueled heaters and cooking 
stoves. An outside vent for the cooking stove, even though it is an electric 
one, is an asset to a good kitchen. Although most kitchens in old houses 

204 New Houses from Old 

have chimneys, there may not be a chimney in the room to which you wish 
to transfer the kitchen in your remodeling. There are several types of vents 
manufactured for use with small gas-fired appliances. Some are made of 
insulated sheet metal, others of some other incombustible material. If you 
need to use such a vent in your remodeled house, the main point is to use 
one that has been approved by the Underwriters Laboratories and to in- 
stall it according to the requirements specified in their approval report. 

Repairing and Modernizing Old Chimneys 

Whether an old chimney is worth repairing depends first on its condition 
and second on whether, if it is repaired or rebuilt, it will be adequate for 
the use you intend to make of it. However, if the chimney stands on a good 
footing, is suitably located, and has a flue of adequate size, it can probably 
be put in good condition at less cost than the building of a new chimney. 

Mortar joints. Mortar joints in chimneys are subject to disintegrating in- 
fluences from both the inside and the outside. For this reason simple point- 
ing up of joints that have deteriorated may not be enough. For example, 
the joints above the roof line are sometimes so far gone that it is necessary 
to take the chimney down to a level 1 ft. or more below the roof and to lay 
it up again in fresh mortar. When this is done to an unlined chimney, two 
or three lengths of flue lining should be installed in the top of the chimney 
to reduce the fire hazard if the joints fail again. Another method of repair 
is raking most of the old mortar out of the joints, then filling them full of 
fresh mortar. The outside of the chimney is then plastered with a layer % 
in. thick of a 1:3 Portland-cement mortar. Of course, there are also many 
chimneys, especially lined chimneys, in which the joints can be adequately 
repaired by pointing up. 

Obstructions. Chimneys that have not been used for some time are often 
clogged with debris such as birds' nests and fallen bricks. Some old chimneys 
have interior linings of mortar that have gradually broken up and dropped 
down through them. Debris that has fallen all the way down can be re- 
moved through the opening at the base of the flue. Material that is lodged 
part way down can usually be loosened by working a heavy chain up and 
down in the chimney; but if there is an offset in the flue, material may be 
packed into it so solidly that the chain will not dislodge it. If the lodged 
material cannot be loosened from the top or bottom of the flue, the only 
way to get at it is to break an opening in the chimney next to the offset. 
The opening can be filled in again after the debris is removed. 

Creosote. Creosote results from chemical reactions that occur between 
substances in wood smoke. Since many old chimneys served wood fires for 

Chimneys and Fireplaces 205 

long periods of years, they are often heavily coated with creosote. The best 
method of removal is a heavy chain that is worked up and down inside the 
chimney and oscillated from side to side to crack the creosote deposits and 
cause them to fall to the bottom of the chimney. All of the loosened creosote 
should be removed from the opening at the base of the flue before a fire is 
started. Burning creosote out of a chimney is not to be recommended because 
the heat of the fire may crack the chimney. A vigorous chimney fire is also a 
danger to the house itself and to other buildings in the vicinity. 

Flues. Old chimneys often have single flues that were used for several 
stoves or fireplaces. Authorities now agree that for the sake of safety there 
should be only one fireplace or heater attached to a flue. Superfluous open- 
ings in an old chimney can be filled in by removing the thimble, if there is 
one, and filling the hole solidly with brick set in 1 : 3 Portland-cement mortar. 
You may find that some previous householder has stopped up some of the 
unused openings with metal caps that have been papered over. These should 
be hunted for and removed before they set the house on fire. Usually they 
can be found by looking for bulges in the wallpaper, but several layers of 
wallpaper will pretty thoroughly conceal them. If you do not plan to remove 
the wallpaper in the room, you can find these caps by tapping the wall 
lightly with a hammer. Look for them in every room through which the 
chimney passes. 

If the walls of a chimney are thick enough and the mortar joints are in 
good condition, a fire-clay flue lining is not necessary for safety. Neverthe- 
less, when an old chimney is taken down and rebuilt, such a lining should 
always be built into it. Installation of flue linings is always worth while 
if you can stand the expense, for they not only reduce the number of joints 
through which flue gases may find their way to the wood in the house but 
also improve the performance of old chimneys in which the flues are rough. 

It is difficult to install a lining in an old chimney that has walls less than 
12 in. thick without tearing the chimney down and rebuilding it, but linings 
can be installed in massive chimneys of the type found in some old houses 
by tearing out only one side of the chimney. The mortar is chipped out of 
the joints with a narrow chisel. Then the stones or bricks are removed one 
by one. If the stones are fieldstone, it is advisable to keep them in order. 
The old flue is thoroughly cleaned of soot and creosote. The flue lining is 
then placed with the same care for good workmanship as would be taken 
in building a new chimney. 

The accurate cutting of flue lining for installation in offsets is not difficult. 
The lines for the cut are carefully drawn on the outside of the lining. The 
length of lining is then placed on a firm surface and is solidly filled with 
damp sand. A shallow groove is then made the entire length of the lines 


New Houses from Old 

with a sharp cold chisel. Once the groove is well defined, the cut can be 
completed by striking a sharp blow with the chisel. 

After the mortar in the joints has dried, the flue is given a smoke test. 
The stones or brick that were removed are then cleaned and set back in 
place in solid beds of mortar. Care should be taken in replacing them not 
to turn the ends that were originally next to the flue to the outside where 
they will come in contact with plaster or paint. 















Fig. 16.3. — The parts of a modern fireplace. 

Chimneys and Fireplaces 



The elements of a correctly designed fireplace are shown in Fig. 16.3. 
The relation of a typical fireplace to the whole chimney can be seen in Fig. 
16.1. The ashpit and ash dump are conveniences that should be included 
if a new chimney and fireplace are built, but they are not essential to the 
operation of the fireplace. The smoke or downdraft shelf is a critical element 
that is sometimes lacking in old fireplaces. If the fireplace is to burn well 
without smoking, there must be a rather precise relationship between the 
area of the opening and the area of the flue. Other parts of the fireplace 
should also be correctly proportioned (Figs. 16.3 and 16.4). 

Fig. 16.4 
Recommended Dimensions in Inches for Fireplaces 

(Letters at heads of columns refer to Fig. 16.3) 






Outside dimen- 


eter of 





sions of standard 








rectangular flue 








16 to 18 




8Mby 83^* 




16 to 18 




8>^by 8H 




16 to 18 




83^ by 81^ 




16 to 18 




8J^ by 13 




16 to 18 




W2 by 13 


1 42 


16 to 18 




8M by 18 




18 to 20 




8M by 18 




18 to 20 




13 by 13 




18 to 20 




13 by 13 




18 to 20 




13 by 13 




18 to 20 




13 by 18 




18 to 20 




13 by 18 




18 to 20 




13 by 18 




20 to 22 




13 by 13 




20 to 22 




13 by 18 




20 to 22 




13 by 18 




20 to 22 




18 by 18 




20 to 22 




18 by 18 




22 to 28 




18 by 18 


Figs. 16.3 and I6.4 reprinted from Farmers' Bulletin 1889, issued by The U. S. Department of Agriculture 

* The authors of this book do not recommend the use for fireplaces of rectangular flues smaller than 
8 ]/2 in. by 13 in. 

208 New Houses from Old 

The bottom and the back of the fireplace are preferably lined with fire- 
brick, which is set in fire clay rather than mortar. The bricks in the bottom 
of a fireplace should be stood on edge to give a floor 4 in. thick, and those 
that line the back of the fireplace should be laid flat (Fig. 16.1) to make 
a lining of the same thickness. When laid this way, the lining may be in- 
cluded in calculating the minimum permissible thickness of the fireplace 
walls, which is 8 in. if the fireplace is built of brick, 12 in. if it is built of 
stone. Firebrick linings are sometimes omitted if the fireplace has unusually 
thick walls. 

Cast-iron fireplace dampers and ash dumps can be purchased in various 
sizes from building-supply dealers. In some types of dampers the lintel that 
supports the masonry over the fireplace opening is part of the damper 
frame, but with other types a separate lintel must be used. For fireplace 
openings of average size, lintels can be made of iron bars ^o ^^- thick and 
3 in. wide or of angle irons ^4 ^^- thick with sides S^o ^^- wide. 

Two methods of supporting fireplace hearths are shown in Fig. 16.3. Con- 
struction of the flat slab is easier for persons who are not skilled in masonry 
work, but the trimmer-arch method is not difficult. A piece of plywood can 
be curved to support the arch until the mortar has set. The hearth should 
extend into the room a minimum distance of 20 in. from the front edge of 
the fireplace and 12 in. on each side of the opening. A hearth built flush 
with the floor is better if the floor is to be left bare or covered with small 
rugs; but if the floor is to be covered solidly with carpeting, a hearth raised 
y? in. above the floor will look better. Framing around chimneys and fire- 
places is discussed in the next chapter. 

Repairing and Modernizing Fireplaces 

In some old houses, the first operation in remodeling the fireplaces is to 
uncover them. Often the openings have been filled in with brick, the old 
mantels removed, and the area covered with plaster and wallpaper, or even 
with wainscoting or other woodwork. In some cases, the woodwork was 
installed over unfilled openings. Removal of the covering material is usually 
a simple matter. Removal of the masonry that has been placed in the open- 
ings is usually not difficult either, because a hard-setting mortar was 
seldom used in such places. In other houses the fireplaces have not been 
covered over, but they may need repair and perhaps reconstruction. 

The flue. The first thing to investigate is the flue. If the chimney does not 
have a fire-clay flue lining, installation of one is undoubtedly the best thing 
to do. However, if you don't want to undertake the expense of this opera- 
tion, the old flue should be cleaned and all obstructions removed. If there is 

Chimneys and Fireplaces 209 

another opening into it for a fireplace or stove, this opening should be 
sealed. This may seem a severe requirement, but two fireplaces, or a fire- 
place and a stove, located on different floors and connected to the same flue 
constitute a fire hazard of the first order. The area of the fireplace opening 
should be proportioned to the area of the flue, hence it may not be advisable 
to restore the fireplace opening to its full, original size, because often the 
opening in the old fireplace was built too large for the flue. 

The smoke shelf. This element is often lacking in old fireplaces. Fortu- 
nately such fireplaces are usually deeper than need be, hence a smoke shelf 
can be constructed by building a new back and lining in front of the old 
ones. It is usually necessary to remove the first layer of old masonry in 
order to obtain a firm, clean surface to which the new masonry will bond. 
The original masonry should be thoroughly dampened just before the new 
is placed against it, and all spaces between the old and the new should be 
solidly filled with 1:3 or 1:2 Portland-cement mortar. The new masonry 
should be carefully damp-cured for at least a week, and no fire should be 
built in the fireplace for at least two weeks. 

The damper. Strange as it seems, some old fireplaces were built without 
dampers. Perhaps this was not a serious lack when the fireplace was in 
nearly constant use in cold weather, but much heat can be lost from a 
modern house through a fireplace without a damper or through one with 
a damper if the damper is left open. Fireplace dampers in cast-iron frames 
are available. These are designed to be set into the masonry. Their installa- 
tion in an old fireplace is usually not difficult, particularly when the fireplace 
must be partly rebuilt anyway. 

The lintel. In very old houses the fireplaces sometimes have massive 
wooden lintels set into the masonry. Usually the sides that are exposed to 
the fire have been plastered to reduce the tendency of the wood to char or 
to catch fire. Obviously, these lintels are fire hazards. On the other hand, 
they are antique features that most persons with a feeling for antiques will 
wish to preserve. If there are such fireplace lintels in the house you are re- 
modeling, you will probably elect to keep them. If you do so, by all means 
avoid building a hot fire too close to the lintel. Replacing the wooden lintel 
with a steel one or with a masonry arch is better from the safety viewpoint. 

Smoky fireplaces. Fireplaces may draw poorly or smoke for a number of 
reasons. Consistent smoking is usually caused by an obstructed flue or by 
one that is too small in proportion to the fireplace opening. Fireplaces 
vented through outside chimneys often draw poorly when the fire is started 
in cool weather but work all right after the fire has been burning a while. 
This effect is due to the cold masonry in the chimney, which must become 
warmed before the flue will function well. If the fireplace burns well most 


New Houses from Old 

of the time but occasionally puffs smoke, there are several possible causes. 
The flue may be too small. There may be no downdraft shelf. The top of 
the chimney may not stand high enough above the roof, or it may be too 
close to tall trees. 

iCourtesy Superior Fireplace Company.) 
Fig. 16.5. — Details of a standard fireplace unit. 

A less obvious cause of smoking is inadequate ventilation in the house. 
Rather large volumes of air must pass up the chimney when a fire is burning 
in a fireplace, and equivalent amounts must flow into the house from the 
outdoors. This was no problem in the typical old-time house with its loosely 
built walls and poorly fitted doors and windows; but if, in remodeling, the 
exterior walls are tightly sheathed and the windows and doors are weather- 
stripped, air may not be able to enter fast enough to produce a good draft 
in the chimney. The remedy is to open a window slightly when there is a 
fire in the fireplace. 

Fireplace Units 

A fairly simple way of modernizing an old fireplace, or of constructing a 
new one for that matter, is to build a fireplace unit (Fig. 16.5) into it. 
These units have several advantages. Their proportions are correctly de- 
signed, hence if they are installed in a tightly built chimney that has a flue 
of the right size, the fireplace can be depended on to perform satisfactorily. 
They serve as a form for the fireplace masonry, thus making it possible 
for a relatively unskilled person to build a good fireplace and saving time 
even for skilled masons. The damper, smoke chamber, and smoke shelf are 
built into them. 

Chimneys and Fireplaces 211 

Fireplace units are built with hollow walls designed so that air circulates 
between the walls when the fireplace is in operation and is discharged into 
the room after it has been heated; thus the fireplace heats not only by 
radiation as does the conventional fireplace but also by convection. 

When a fireplace unit is used, cool-air inlets and warm-air outlets must 
be provided. Often there is no attempt to disguise these openings. On the 
other hand, some homeowners prefer to conceal them. In Fig. 6.3 the cold- 
air intakes are in the sides of the fireplace near the floor, and the warm-air 
outlets are under the metal hood, which is hung so that the heated air flows 
out at the top. In Fig. 6.4 the warm-air outlets have been concealed in the 
recessed niches above and at the sides of the fireplace. Sometimes the cold- 
air inlet is placed so that it draws fresh air from outside the house; but 
since this scheme reduces the heating effect of the unit, the cold-air inlets 
are usually placed near the base of the fireplace so that they draw cool air 
from the floor. The heated air is usually discharged into the same room, but 
the warm-air outlet can be located in another room on the same floor or 
even on the floor above. Sometimes a small electric fan is installed in the 
cold-air inlet to increase the circulation of air through the unit. Manu- 
facturers of these units will supply detailed directions for various types of 



House Framing 


ANY REMODELING OPERATIONS involve alterations in the frame of the 
house. Operations such as the cutting of new windows and doors cannot be 
intelligently planned unless the framing members that are concealed in the 
wall can be visualized. Removal of partitions or building them must be 
based on a knowledge of framing. If the floors of the house are uneven, you 
will have to understand how they are supported in order to plan or carry 
out their leveling. Even in operations such as the installation of a bathroom, 
it is necessary to know how the studs are spaced in the walls and the direc- 
tion the joists run under the floor of the room in order to plan the installa- 
tion of the fixtures. 

Types of Frames 

The three principal types of house frames are illustrated in Figs. 17.1 
to 17.3. There are many variations of these basic types, but variations in 
details are much more common than variations in main elements. The balloon 
type of frame has been used in more houses in recent years than any other 
type, but the Western or platform type is more common in some sections of 
the country. Old houses along the Eastern seacoast, especially in the New 
England States, usually have braced frames. In the very old ones, rather 
massive timbers were used that were fitted together with mortised joints held 
together by wooden pins. These frames were essentially the same as those 
that can be seen in most old barns. 

A rather new type of framing for houses is known as the plank and beam. 
This type is not described in this book, but the National Lumber Manu- 
facturers' Association has published an excellent brochure on the subject, 
which is noted under Useful Books and Pamphlets. It is unlikely that you 
will be remodeling a plank-and-beam house, but since this method may be 
used to produce interior details that harmonize well with old braced frame 
construction, you may wish to consider it if you are planning an addition to 
an old house. Fig. 6.6 shows a living room in a house with plank-and-beam 


House Framing 



















note: standard spacing for studs should be 16 INCHES CENTER TO CENTER 


{Courtesy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.) 

Fig. 17.1. 


New Houses from Old 




















(Courtesy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.) 

Fig. 17.2. 

House Framing 











(Courtesy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.} 

Fig. 17.3. 

216 New Houses from Old 

floors. An older and somewhat uncommon type of plank house has exterior 
walls that are made of planks laid flat upon one another. This type is not 
actually a frame house. Rather it resembles a masonry house with the dif- 
ference that its exterior walls are made of solid wood instead of solid 

Lumber Sizes 

The cross-sectional areas of lumber are regularly given in inches. Since 
inches are universally understood as the unit of measurement, the designa- 
tion of sizes is usually shortened to such terms as 2 by 4 and 4 by 4, which 
mean, respectively, nominal sizes of 2 in. by 4 in. and 4 in. by 4 in. These 
sizes refer to the dimensions of the lumber before it is finished, hence the 
actual dimensions of planed lumber are somewhat smaller than the nominal 
sizes. The actual sizes are % in. less for pieces nominally 4 to 7 in. wide 
and % in. less for pieces 8 in. or more wide. Framing lumber is usually 
dressed on two sides only; therefore, its actual width is less than the nominal 
size, but its depth is the actual size. Throughout this chapter we shall refer 
to lumber in terms of its nominal sizes. 


In a frame house the exterior walls stand on the sill, which in turn stands 
on the foundation wall. In old and middle-aged houses the sill is usually a 
substantial piece of timber, 8 by 8 or sometimes larger. In modern houses 
it is usually much smaller, sometimes as small as 2 by 6, but 4-by-6 sills 
are more common. Modern types of sills can be seen in Figs. 17.1 and 17.3, 
and large details are shown in Fig. 17.4. 

Replacing the sills under an existing house is a major undertaking; but 
in regions where there are many old houses, there are usually a considerable 
number of carpenters and builders who are skilled in such work. The job 
is simplest in houses where the joists and studs stand flush on the sill and 
are fastened with nails. It is more complicated when the joists or the studs 
are mortised into the sill, as they are in many old houses. No matter how 
the sill is constructed, the house must be raised from the foundation and 
shored up in order to replace the sill. 

It is usually not necessary to construct the sill in the same way as the 
old one. For example, cutting mortises in the new sills for the studs or 
joists would be a waste of time and money. Instead, the tenons are cut off 
and the studs are toenailed to the new sill or to a sole placed on it. In 
most cases, an old, heavy sill can be replaced with a box sill; but in some 


ouse J:'rammg 



Fig. IIA.—A. T-sill. B. Box sill. C. Built-up sill. D. Old-style solid sill. 

cases it is better, for one reason or another, to install a new sill of the 
same type and dimensions as the old. If the house sits close to the ground, 
it is advisable to use lumber for the new sill that has been treated with 
creosote or some other wood preservative to protect it against decay and 
termite attack. 

218 New Houses from Old 


Girders are heavy timbers that hold up the interior of the house. A built- 
up girder made by spiking together separate pieces of narrow lumber is 
shown in Fig. 17.1, and a solid girder is shown in Fig. 17.2. In old houses 
the girders are usually made of solid pieces of lumber, but the built-up 
girder is just as strong and is often installed in place of a defective girder 
of the other type. 

In some old houses, especially houses in which the basements have 
earthen floors, the girders will be decayed somewhat throughout their entire 
length. Decay at the end of the girder where it rests on the foundation wall 
is, however, more common. Girders that rest on dry-wall foundations or on 
other types of foundations that are not solid masonry are also prone to 
termite damage. A girder that is no longer a sound piece of lumber capable 
of supporting the house must be replaced. Again, the exact details of the 
operation depend on how the framing members that are supported on the 
girder are attached to it, and the operation is one that should be undertaken 
only by skilled carpenters. 

The new girder should be protected against dampness and termites. The 
most effective way to accomplish this is to use treated lumber. If treated 
lumber is not available and the girder ends rest in pockets in the founda- 
tion wall, the pockets should be lined (Fig. 15.4) with 16-oz. sheet copper 
or heavier or with some other corrosion-resistant metal, such as lead. The 
lining should be made to fit the pocket, and any necessary seams in it should 
be carefully soldered. Girders should have a minimum bearing of at least 
4 in. at their ends, and there should be an air space of at least ^o in. 
around the sides and top of the girder. If the old pocket does not provide 
a bearing and air space of this depth, it will be best to make it larger. 

A split girder can sometimes be adequately repaired by jacking it back 
to its original level then reinforcing it with pieces of lumber that are 
bolted or spiked to it on both sides of the break. A post should be placed 
under the repaired areas before the jacks are removed. A girder that is too 
flexible, resulting in a shaky floor overhead, can be stiffened by putting more 
supports under it, provided that the wood in the girder is still sound. 

The girder is supported at its ends by the foundation wall; but between 
the walls it is supported by one or more posts. Footings for these posts are 
discussed in Chapter 15. A good rule of thumb for spacing posts in average 
houses is to use two of them under a girder about 20 ft, long, three under 
a girder about 30 ft. long, and four under a girder about 40 ft. long and 
to place the posts so that the girder will be supported evenly. Thus, the 
two posts under a 20-ft. girder are placed 6 ft. 8 in. from the foundation 

House Framing 


walls. Another spacing rule is to place the posts so that the girder supports 
are not farther apart than twelve times the height of the girder. Thus, if 
the girder is 8 in. high (Fig. 17.5), the supports should be no more than 
96 in. apart. A post should be placed under each joint in the girder whether 

Fig. 17.5. — Section of built-up girder. 

the girder is made of solid lumber or is built up of narrow lumber. In 
houses where the basement is not over 8 ft. high, 6-by-6 lumber or steel-pipe 
columns of from 2^2 to 4 in. nominal diameter are used. 

Wood is a satisfactory material for the posts if the footing projects high 
enough above the basement floor to keep the bottom of the post dry and 
to protect it from termites; but hollow iron columns are inexpensive and 
are more satisfactory. Adjustable iron columns with screws built into the 
tops are available. These are especially useful when new footings or posts 
must be placed under existing houses. 

The adjustable type of steel post can be used also to level a girder that 
has bowed due to the failure of a post or footing. Such girders can be 
restored to their original level by jacking if you decide not to use adjustable 
posts. Both wood and steel posts should be capped with a steel plate some- 
what larger in area than the rest of the post to prevent crushing of the 
wood in the girder by the top of the post. Factory-made steel-girder posts 
usually have a rectangular plate at the base also. If this plate has holes for 
bolts, the bolts should be placed in the concrete of the footing when it is 


Joists are the timbers that directly support the floors in the house (Figs. 
17,1 and 17.3). Note in these figures the various methods of support for 


New Houses from Old 

the joists at the different floor levels. Ordinarily, the first-floor joists rest 
on the sill at one end (Fig. 17.4) and on the girder at the other end. If 
the girder ends rest in pockets in the foundation wall, the joists are usually 
supported on top of the girder; but if the girder ends rest on top of the 
foundation wall, the joists are supported by iron stirrups or ledger strips 
attached to the girder, or their ends may be mortised into it. Mortised 
joints where the sills meet the girder are common in old houses and are 
still used in some houses at the present time. However, it is doubtful whether 
the cutting of mortised joints when joists are replaced in remodeling is 
ever justified, because adequate support for the joists can be obtained by 
any of the methods shown in Fig. 17.6. 

In old houses, the joists, particularly the first-floor joists, are often made 
of rather heavy lumber and are widely spaced. The use of small logs sawed 














{Courtejy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.) 
Fig. 17.6.— Various methods of supporting joists on girders. 

House Framing 


in half for the first-floor joists persisted until rather recent times in houses 
built in rural districts. In modern houses joists are almost always made 
of lumber of 2-in. nominal width and are usually spaced 16 in. center to 



Fig. 17.7. 

It is desirable that the joists should be stiff in order to avoid springy and 
creaky floors. Stiffness is obtained by using lumber of adequate height and 
by bridging (Fig. 17.7). In new construction the top end of the bridging 
is nailed before the subflooring is placed, and the bottom end is nailed after 
the subflooring has been nailed to the joists. The same procedure is fol- 
lowed in remodeling if the floor is removed; but if the floor is not removed, 
bridging of the usual type cannot be installed. However, bridging made as 
shown in Fig. 17. 7B can be installed without removal of the floor, pro- 
vided that there is no ceiling in the way. 

Replacement of the first-floor joists is sometimes necessary because they 
are exposed to the moisture of the basement and also to the moisture that 
rises in the foundation wall. First-floor joists can be replaced without remov- 
ing the flooring if the floor is made of only a single layer of boards. They 
should be replaced one at a time. If the old joist is mortised into either the 
sill or the girder, the ends are cut off. If it is nailed at the sill end to a 
stud in the wall, it is pried loose. After the ends are free, the joist is pried 
away from the flooring. Once the joist is out of the way, the old nails may 
be removed by driving them up through the floor, or they may be cut off. 
The new joist is then put in place and its ends are secured by nailing or 
otherwise. If the piece of lumber is a little warped, it should be pushed into 
line with short braces tacked to the adjacent joists. Nailing the floor to it 
is then a simple matter, as the position of the joist will be indicated by 

222 New Houses from Old 

the old nails or nail holes. If the floor above the joists is double, the top 
or finish layer of flooring must be removed in order to replace the joists. 

In new construction the correct height and width of joists should be 
determined by using a joist table for the particular species of lumber that 
is to be used. Sometimes such tables are included in the local building code. 
If joist sizes are not specified in the building code or if no building code 
applies, a compilation of tables such as the Federal Housing Administra- 
tion's Tables of Maximum Allowable Spans for Wood Floor Joists, Ceiling 
Joists, Rafters in Residential Construction should be used. However, it is 
seldom possible in remodeling to change the height of the joists unless the 
heights of the sill and girder are also changed. If there are not enough 
joists under the floor to give it the desired stiffness, additional stiffness 
can be built in by bridging. Second-floor and attic-floor joists are seldom 
decayed; but they may be too flexible because the original carpenter did 
not size them properly or spaced them too widely. Nothing can be done to 
the second-floor joists unless the ceiling in the first-floor rooms is removed. 
If the old ceiling is removed in order to give it a new covering or to install 
a suspended ceiling, additional stiffness can be given to the second-floor 
joists by installing bridging. 

The joists under the attic floor are often spaced rather widely because 
when the house was built, use of the attic for purposes other than storage 
was not contemplated. If you plan to use the attic for living quarters, it 
may be necessary to install additional joists. Installation of more joists may 
also be necessary in order to strengthen the roof frame. If there is a floor 
in the attic, it should be removed. Installation of additional joists is then 
an easy matter. Observe in Figs. 17.1 and 17.3 how the attic-floor joists are 

Some houses have a second story that overhangs the first. In such houses, 
the second-floor joists usually project over the plate on top of the first-floor 
studs (Fig. 17.8). 


The studs in the walls seldom need replacement in remodeling, but occa- 
sionally a house is found in which a few wall studs have decayed because 
water got into the wall through dilapidated siding or other leaks. Wall 
studs can also be damaged by termites. Fortunately, such cases are rare. 
Usually the only interest in the studs in remodeling occurs when pipes 
must be run in the walls or when openings must be cut for new windows 
or doors. In these operations you will need some knowledge of stud con- 
struction and spacing. 

House Framing 


Notice in Figs. 17.1 and 17.3 that the studs in a balloon frame house 
run in one piece from the sill to the level of the attic floor but are only 
one story in height in frames of the other two types. This difference makes 
it possible to run pipes and wires in a balloon frame wall without cutting 
through any heavy timbers. Note also the corner braces and how they are 
applied to the frame. Obviously corner braces that are let into the studs— 
that is, plpxed in notches cut in the outer edges of the studs — will not be 
in the way of electrical cable and small pipes; but the other type of brace 
(Fig. 17.2), which is as wide as the studs and intercepts them, will be in 
the way. 


Fig. 17.8 — Framing details of a typical second-story overhang. 

In old houses, the bottom ends of the studs are often mortised into the 
sill; but in modern houses, they are nailed to it. Usually they are toenailed 
— that is, the spikes are driven at an angle through the ends of the stud 
and into the sill. In the building of some new houses, carpenters construct 
the wall on the ground, then raise it into position. When this is done, spikes 
are driven through the sill into the ends of the studs. If there are no nails 
visible at the end of the studs where they rest on the sill, this technique has 
undoubtedly been employed. 

The standard spacing for studs in house walls is now 16 in. center to 
center, but variations from this spacing are common in old houses. In houses 
with braced frames, the studs are sometimes few and far between. In many 

224 New Houses from Old 

of the old braced frames, the studs were not designed to carry any of the 
weight of the house but were put in the wall only to provide wood to 
which the window frames and doorframes and the sheathing could be nailed. 
In very old frame houses, the space between the studs and other timbers in 
the outside walls is often filled with a low-grade brick or other material. 
This material — called nogging — is a filler only and supports none of the 
weight of the house. 

In the plank house there are no studs at all. Any changes in the wall§ 
of a plank house require cutting through solid wood, and there is, of course, 
no space within the walls for pipes. The plank house is, nevertheless, one 
of the easiest kinds to remodel, because new openings can be cut practically 
anywhere in the walls, and old ones can be filled in easily. 


Partitions are interior walls. In remodeling, when partitions must be 
moved, it is necessary to distinguish between those that are bearing and 
those that are nonbearing. Examples of bearing partitions can be seen in 
Figs. 17.1 and 17.3. Observe that they support the inner ends of the joists 
in the floor above them. Obviously such partitions cannot be removed with- 
out making provision to support this weight. As a general rule, it is best to 
plan remodeling so that bearing partitions do not have to be removed. 
When they must be removed, they are replaced with beams. The dimensions 
of the beam inust be carefully calculated, a way must be found for securely 
fastening it at its ends, and the floor must be shored up while the partition 
is being removed and while the beam is being put in its place. The oper- 
ation should be in charge of an experienced architect or builder. 

On the other hand, nonbearing partitions can be removed without affect- 
ing the strength of the house frame. The only safe way for determining 
whether a partition is bearing or nonbearing is to make a thorough study 
of its position in relation to the frame of the house. Practically all parti- 
tions that are located over girders are bearing partitions. Partitions that 
run at right angles to the joists below and above them are usually bearing 
partitions. On the other hand, partitions that run in the same direction as 
the joists are usually nonbearing. In case of doubt, however, it is best to 
call in an expert before tearing out the partition. Pipes, warm-air ducts, 
and electrical wires that run in a partition must be relocated when a par- 
tition is removed. 

Bearing partitions are constructed when the house is built. Nonbearing 
partitions can be put in at any time. Details of typical nonbearing parti- 
tions are illustrated in Fig. 17.9. Partitions are usually constructed of 2-by-4 




House Framing 



P. S 















^ ^ 











Fig. 17.9. — Nonbearing partition details. A, B, C, D, E, and F illustrate various 
methods of framing the top; G, base of the partition; H, I, corner framing. C.J, 
indicates ceiling joist; P.S., partition stud. 

studs. The studs can be placed with the 4-in. dimension at right angles to 
the partition; but they are sometimes placed with the 4-in. dimension in 
line with it. The first method makes a wall 5 to 6 in. thick, and the second 
method, one that is 3 to 4 in. thick after the wall covering is placed on 
both sides. Although the bridging in the partitions shown in Figs. 17.1 and 
17.3 is more or less standard practice, it has been proved to have little, if 
any, structural value. Since it is a nuisance if you wish later to place 
electrical cable or piping in the partition, you may as well omit it unless 
it is required by your building code. 


New Houses from Old 


The planning of stairs and their dimensions have been discussed in 
Chapter 5. Typical stair framing is shown in Fig. 17.10. Notice the wall 
stringer between the first and second floors. This stringer is grooved to 
receive the edges of the risers and treads and is constructed so that wedges 












(Courtesy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.) 

Fig. 17.10. 

House Framing 


can be driven in under the treads and risers to hold them firm and to pre- 
vent squeaking. Stringers of this type are usually made to order in a wood- 
working shop or purchased from manufacturers of woodwork. The type of 
stringer that is shown in this figure for the attic stairs is usually cut on the 
job by the carpenter. Stringers placed against a wall are nailed to the wall 
or to the partition studs. 

Stairs that have poorly proportioned treads and risers (Chapter 5) can 
be modernized only by replacing them with a correctly designed stair. Stairs 
that are satisfactorily proportioned but are squeaky can be fixed by a 
number of methods. If the stair has a wedged stringer that is accessible from 
the underside, the wedges can be driven in a little tighter. If the stringers 
are of the more common type, squeaks can usually be taken out by nailing 
the treads and risers more solidly. If the treads and risers are poorly fitted 
and you do not wish to replace them, squeaks can be cured by placing 
narrow strips of thin rubber under the treads on the stringer and also in the 
joints between the treads and risers. It is necessary to remove the treads in 
order to do this. 


Fig. 17.11. — Rough framini 
is indicated by shading. 

of door and window cut into existing wall. New wood 

Framing Around Openings 

Openings for ivindows and doors. Typical framing for narrow openings 
in exterior walls and bearing partitions are shown in Fig. 17.11. A method 


New Houses from Old 

of framing wider openings is shown in Fig. 17.12. Openings in nonbearing 
partitions are framed similarly to Fig. 17.12, except that the diagonal mem- 
bers can be omitted. The openings must be made to fit the window frames 
and doorframes that are to be installed in them; therefore, if the studs in 
the wall are not spaced to frame an opening of the right size, extra studs 
are inserted in the wall. The installation of corner windows in old houses 
is usually not advisable. However, they can be installed if you wish to 
undertake the expense. A method of framing such a window is shown in 
Fig. 17.13. 

Fig. 17.12. — Framing a wide openins 

Openings for chimneys and fireplaces. Since properly constructed chim- 
neys and fireplaces stand independently of the house frame, framing around 
them is also essentially a matter of framing openings. Recommended 
methods are illustrated in Figs. 17.14 and 17.15. An important point to 
be observed in such framing is that of keeping wood or any other com- 
bustible material at least 2 in. away from the masonry. The space between 
the masonry and load-bearing framing members is filled with incombustible 
insulating material, such as mineral wool, loose cinders, or gypsum block. 
Light woodwork, such as baseboards and mantels, which are not load-carry- 
ing members of the house frame, can be installed on chimney masonry, as 
shown in Fig. 17.16. 

The cutting of framing members. Before an opening is cut in a wall, it 
is, of course, necessary to remove the wall covering on both sides. Two-by- 
four's or heavier lumber are then nailed temporarily across the studs that 
are to be cut (Fig. 17.17). If the opening is to be made in a load-bearing 
wall or partition and is more than 3 ft. wide, it is advisable to spike lumber 
to both sides of the studs and to place shoring under it to hold the weight 
until the new framing around the opening is in place. Before nailing the 

House Framing 


temporary cross supports, stand the longer pieces of the new frame in the 
wall adjacent to the places where they are to be installed. Then cut off the 
studs and nail the headers and trimmers in place around the opening. The 
procedure for cutting openings in floors is the same, except that it is neces- 
sary to nail lumber temporarily only to the lower surface of the joists and 
to base the temporary support on the floor below. 

Special care should be taken in constructing the trimmers and headers 
around large openings in floors, particularly openings around fireplace 
hearths and floor registers, because of the heavy live load imposed on such 
areas when many persons congregate around them. The correct procedure 
for nailing such openings is shown in Fig. 17.18. 

Fig. 17.13. — Framins; for insertion of a corner window. 


New Houses from Old 







{Courtesy National Board of Fire Underwriters.) 

Fig. 17.14. — Floor framing around fireplace. 










{Courtesy Natiotial Board of Fire Underzvriters.) 

Fig. 17.16. 

House Framing 








I'^—A h-i2'^" 

(.Courtesy National Board of Fire Underwriters.) 

Fig. 17.15. — A. Floor framing around a chimney that projects both sides of an 
interior wall. B. Ordinary floor framing around a chimney. All timbers clear the 
masonry by at least 2 in., and the space is filled with fireproofing material. C. Ar- 
rangement of studs when a partition crosses the back of a chimney. D. Arrange- 
ment of studs when a partition crosses behind a fireplace. (See Fig, 17.14 for 
fire-stopping details.) 


New Houses from Old 

H , !^l , 111 i Tim 111 lllljl , !{1.,JIL 

A B 

Fig. 17.17. — A, B, and C, successive steps in cutting and framing an opening; c, 
temporary bracing; d, long lumber placed in the frame before temporary bracing 
is nailed. D shows another method of framing the same opening. 

Fig. 17.18. — The frame of a weight-bearing opening should be nailed in two stages. 


House Framing 





Fig. 17.19. — Recommended ways of cutting studs in bearing partitions and joists 
in floors. 









Fig. 17.20. 


New Houses from Old 

The installation of electrical wiring and pipes for plumbing and heating 
systems in existing houses usually requires some cutting of joists and studs. 
Cutting should be avoided as much as possible; but where it is necessary, 
it should be done so that the cut members do not lose too much strength 
(Fig. 17.19). 

Reinforcement of Floors under Bathrooms 

The dead load on the floor under a bathroom may be much higher than 
the dead load on floors in other parts of the house. Live loads in bath- 
rooms, particularly under bathtubs, are exceptionally high. The joists in 
an old house may have adequate strength to carry the added load of a 
bathroom, but usually they do not. Even in houses of very recent construc- 
tion, the weight that is added when the average room is converted to a 
bathroom is sometimes enough to cause the floor joists to sag sufficiently 
to crack plaster and tile work. Joists under bathrooms can be strengthened 
most easily by doubling them. Hanging the bathtub on concealed wall 
hangers that are nailed or screwed to the wall studs also helps to carry 
the added weight. 

Roof Framing 

The parts of two typical roof frames are shown in Fig. 17.20. The span 
of a roof is the distance from the outer edge of one plate to the outer edge 
of the opposite plate, but the span of a rafter is only half of this distance. 
The span of a rafter is also called the run. The pitch (slope) of a roof 
can be described in terms of foot of run^ — thus 5 in. in 12, which means 
that for every 12 in. of the horizontal span the height of the roof increases 
5 in. Pitch is also described in such terms as Y^, %, and full pitch, which 
terms express the relationship between the width of the building and the 
total rise of the roof. The correspondence between pitch expressed this 
way and rise in inches per foot of run is as follows. 

Fig. 17.21 




























House Framing 


Roof-frame repairs. The plates in an existing house are usually in good 
condition, but in a few houses they are found to be decayed or split. The 
first condition usually results from neglected leaks in the roof. The second 
condition may result from the plates not being heavy enough to withstand 
the weight imposed on them by a load of snow on the roof or the strain 
imposed by a high wind. A roof that is based on "tender" plates is not a 
strong structure that can be depended on to support a heavy load of snow 
or even heavy roofing material. A roof on which the plates are in this 
condition sometimes shows no outward signs of weakness when the house 
is occupied the year round but collapses in the wintertime after it has been 
converted to a summer home, the reason being that an unusually heavy 
load of snow piles up on the roof when the house is unheated. Plates can 
sometimes be replaced without dismantling the roof, but the operation is 
complicated and it should be undertaken only by experienced carpenters. 
Defective plates can always be replaced by taking down the roof frame, but 
this is an expensive operation. Usually the plates are decayed or split only 
in small areas. In such cases, it may be enough to install iron straps that 
tie together the rafters and the wall studs adjacent to these areas (Fig. 
17.22). Such straps are not stock items, but they can be made by any 

Fig. 17.22. — Two methods of tying rafters to a weakened plate. 

Some roofs are weak because they are not adequately tied together. The 
collar beams (Fig. 17.20) are often placed high up on the rafters in order 
to give headroom in the attic. Collar beams so placed are relatively in- 
effective as ties. If the attic is not to be used, considerable additional 
strength can be built into the roof by installing collar beams low down on 
the rafters. Spiking a floor joist to each rafter also adds a large amount of 
strength to the roof frame. 

In a few old houses cracked or decayed rafters will be found. A rafter 
can be completely replaced only by removing the roof covering and sheath- 

236 New Houses from Old 

ing and, also, in most houses by dismantling the cornice at the lower end 
of the rafters. However, if the rafter is not too far gone, it can be reinforced 
from underneath the roof by cutting a rafter so that its lower end will 
come flush with the edge of the plate and so that its upper end will rest 
against the ridge. The new rafter is then put in place and solidly spiked 
to the old one. If the old rafter is bowed downward, it should be straight- 
ened by jacking it before the new rafter is nailed to it. 

Rafter layout. Unless the shape or pitch of the roof is to be changed, it 
is not usually necessary in remodeling to figure out the way to cut rafters, 
because, even though some of the rafters in the old roof must be replaced, 
measurements for the new rafters can be taken directly from one of the old 
ones. However, if the roof line is to be changed or if an addition is to be 
built on the house, new rafters must be laid out and cut. The framing of a 
complicated roof is one of the highest skills of the carpenter, but if you 
feel that your ability in this craft is up to roof framing, you will find 
directions for cutting rafters in the books on carpentry and on the use of 
the steel square that are noted in Useful Books and Pamphlets. 

Dormers and other openings in the roof. H an attic that was used only 
for storage is converted to living space, windows are often provided by 
building dormers. Dormers are built also to provide higher ceilings in 
knock-head rooms (Chapter 10). The framing of a typical narrow dormer 
is shown in Fig. 17.23. This figure shows both double headers and trimmers 
around the dormer. Double headers are essential, but double trimmers are 
not always used under narrow dormers. Wider dormers (Fig. 17.24) usually 
have shed roofs. Double trimmers and headers are both necessary around 
the opening for a wide dormer, because these headers and trimmers carry 
the weight of a considerable area of roof. 

As can be seen from a study of Fig. 17.23, the frame of a dormer itself 
does not carry any of the weight of the roof; consequently, the usual type 
of dormer can be removed rather easily in remodeling. When a dormer is 
removed, the hole should be filled in with rafters and covered with sheathing. 
Towers and cupolas on roofs also are usually rather easy to remove. Some- 
times, however, they contain windows or stairways that will still be needed 
in the remodeled house. In such cases, they can sometimes be altered to 
remove their ugliness (Figs. 2.20 and 2.21). 

Changes in roof shape and pitch. Sometimes a great improvement in the 
appearance of a house can be brought about by changing the type of roof 
or the pitch of the roof. Gambrel roofs are sometimes changed to straight 
gable roofs with good architectural results. An operation of this kind is 
essentially the same as the construction of a new roof. The chief difference 
in remodeling is that sometimes the lumber in the old roof can be used to 

House Framing 






{Courtesy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.) 
Fig. 17.23. 


New Houses from Old 





{Courtesy National Lumber Manufacturers Association.) 

Fig. 17.24. 

House Framing 


build the new one. For example, a steeply pitched gable roof has long, 
unbroken rafters and therefore usually contains all the lumber that will be 
needed for a roof of lower pitch on the same house. On the other hand, if 
a roof of low pitch is altered to one of steep pitch or if a gambrel roof is 
changed to a gable roof, not much of the old lumber can be used in the 
new roof because the main elements of the roof, the rafters, will be too 
short. If the only change in the roof framing is the removal of a deep over- 
hang, the rafters are usually only shortened where they project beyond the 
house walls. The details of removing a deep overhang depend on the way 
the eaves of the roof are finished, hence they must be worked out for each 
specific case. 


Fig. 17.25. — A. End-nailing. B. Toenailing. C. Face-nailing. D. Blind-nailing. 

Porch Roofs 

Porch roofs are usually shed roofs with frames similar to the frame of 
the shed dormer illustrated in Fig. 17.24. Often it will be found in an old 
house that the rafters in the porch roof have pulled away from the house, 
thus creating a gap between the roof covering and the side of the house 
through which rain leaks. If the porch is to be retained in the remodeled 
house, it should be jacked up to its original level and good masonry posts 
put under it. After this is done, the rafters in the porch roof can be nailed 
again and they will hold. 


The manner in which the frame is fastened together is a very important 
factor in good construction. Mortised joints were used extensively through- 


New Houses from Old 

out the framework of houses buih in colonial times and somewhat later in 
some localities, but for many years house frames have been nailed together. 
Nailing is the most practical method in remodeling, even in cases where the 
original frame is mortised. The following table indicates good nailing prac- 
tices for typical joints in the house frame. It is intended for lumber of the 
usual dimensions used in modern building; and, therefore, it should be 
modified when heavier lumber is encountered in remodeling. Whenever 
possible, joints should be face-nailed or end-nailed, but toenailing (Fig. 
17.25) produces strong joints if it is carefully done. 

Fig. 17.26 
Nailing Recommendations 



of nails 

in joint 

Joist to sill or girder 



Plate to stud 



Stud to stud 


30 in. o.c. 

Plate to plate 


24 in. o.c. 

Stud to sole 



Joist, ceiling to plate 



Rafter to plate 



Sole on flooring to joist 




16 in. o.c. 

Bridging to joist 



Subfloor, 1 in. by 6 in., 





Subfloor, 1 in. by 8 in.. 





Fire Stopping 

Unless fire-stopping measures are incorporated in the house frame, fire 
that starts in one part of the house, such as the basement, may spread so 
quickly through the interior of the walls that the house will be engulfed 
in flame before the occupants can escape. Old houses are particularly 
faulty in this respect because most of them were built before much atten- 
tion was paid to fire resistance. Fire stopping is particularly important in 
balloon frame houses because of the uninterrupted passages in the exterior 
walls. In braced frames and platform frames the solid second-floor girts 
serve as fire retarders; and in many braced frames the construction of the 
sill is such that there is no opening into the walls. 

Fire stopping in the basement is the most important, because a large 
proportion of house fires start there. A basement ceiling constructed of 

House Framing 




Fig. 17.27. — Typical fire-stopping methods. A, B. At sill. Material such as mineral 
wool may be packed into open space, then compressed with board or block. C. 
Partition base. Wall covering mnst be removed to place fire-stopping material. D. 
Fire stopping around pipe or vent. E. Fire stopping at eaves. Loose material may 
be packed in after supporting boards are nailed between rafters. F. Fire stopping 
around floor register. 

fire-retarding materials, such as Portland-cement plaster on wire lath, is 
one very effective fire-stopping measure. Other types o:*^ fire stopping that 
can be added in remodelmg without great expense are shown in Fig. 17.27. 
Loose mineral wool, vermiculite, or any other incombustible pellet or fiber 
insulating material can be used as fire stopping. Brick, concrete, and cinders 
are also suitable. In fact, thick wood is a fairly effective fire retardant, 
and wooden blocks fitted between the studs just above the sill are required 
by some building codes. 


New Houses from Old 

Framing in Masonry Houses 

The interior framing in houses with solid masonry walls is essentially 
the same as the interior framing in a frame house. The chief difference 
between a typical house with masonry walls and a typical frame house is 
that in the masonry house the outer ends of the joists are supported on 
the masonry wall. In modern construction, these joist ends are cut on a 
bevel and attached to steel anchors embedded in the masonry. In some 
modern houses with masonry walls not only are the joists anchored at their 
ends but also the first three or four that parallel an exterior wall are 
attached to anchors in the masonry (Fig. 17.28). In older masonry houses 
either the sills rest on a ledge formed by reducing the thickness of the 
masonry wall or their ends are embedded in the masonry. In such houses 
the walls are often tied together by wire tie rods which pass through the 
house between the joists and which are secured to the walls by ornamental 
nuts or plates on the exterior. 






• .WALL 



Fig. 17.28. — Joist anchors. The style shown in A, used at the ends of joists, is 
common in existing houses. B ilhistrates a style used in well-built houses for tying 
in joists that parallel the wall. 




Xhe various elements of the roof covering, together with the eaves and 
downspouts, are shown in Fig. 18.A, 


Sheathing not only provides a base for the roof covering but also ties 
the rafters together horizontally and adds considerably to the frame's stiff- 
ness and stability. Sheathing should be laid carefully with all joints made 
over rafters and should be well nailed. Solid sheathing may be made of 
square-edged, shiplapped, or tongued-and-grooved boards of nominal 1-in. 
thickness. Preferably they should not be more than 6 in. wide. Open sheath- 
ing is usually installed only when wood shingles are to be used as the roof 
covering. Open sheathing is made of l-by-3, l-by-4, or wider strips of lumber. 
These strips are nailed horizontally across the rafters and spaced so that 
their centers are the same distance apart, as the shingles will be exposed 
to the weather. 


In order to make a watertight roof, flashings are necessary around chim- 
neys and soil-stack vents, in valleys, and at various other points (Figs. 
18.1 to 18.6). 

Soft (roofing temper) sheet copper weighing 16 oz. per sq. ft. is a 
highly satisfactory material for flashings. Figs. 18.1 to 18.6 and the follow- 
ing instructions for making copper flashings are printed here by courtesy 
of the Copper and Brass Research Association. 

Valleys. Open-valley flashing — slate or shingle roof. Starting at the bottom 
with an 8-ft. sheet, fold the top edge back Vz in. to prevent water blowing past 
the lap. The next sheet is then laid, allowing a 6-in. lap. The exposed part of the 
valley should be not less than 4 in. wide at the top and, to give more capacity, 
increased in width by 1 in. for each 8 ft. in length of the valley. The copper 



New Houses from Old 



should extend at least 4 in. under the slate or shingle. Where one side of the 
valley is much steeper, or receives a much greater volume of water, form an 
inverted V in the center. If cold-rolled copper is used in place of soft copper. 

•4" MIN. 

12" O.C. 


Fig. 18.1. 

the valley should be formed in the shop. Nails used to fasten slate or shingles 
should not perforate the copper, which is held by the cleats. Where sheet-copper 
tile or shingles are used, the same general principles apply, but manufacturers' 
literature should be consulted for special details. 


New Houses from Old 

Closed-valley flashing — slate or shingle roof. A closed valley may be laid in 
with each course of slate, using pieces long enough to extend 2 in. past the top 
of the slate upon which they rest, to allow lap for nailing or for cutting lugs to 
be turned under slate, to prevent slipping, or it may be laid with copper 14 in. 
wide, bent in the center, using 8-ft. sheets, allowing 6-in. laps. 

Chimneys. Chimney flashing — slate or shingle roof. The base flashing at lower 
end of chimney extends out on the slate or shingles at least 4 in., with a hem 
edge. The lowest piece of shingle flashing on each side folds around the corner 





Fig. 18.2. 



of the chimney and is soldered to the base flashing. Many roofers prefer to lock 
as well as solder all four corners. Shingle flashing at sides should be lapped 
4 in. and extended out 4 in. from the brickwork. The base flashing and shingle 
flashing are cap-flashed as shown, overlapping the base flashing 4 in., and 




Fig. 18.3A. 


New Houses from Old 

stiffened at the bottom with a hem edge. The copper-base flashing and cap flash- 
ing may be formed in one piece on the low side of the chimney if it is desirable 
to make this flashing less conspicuous. The copper may then be turned into the 
second course of brick above the top of wood sheathing. The lowest shingle flash- 
ings are folded around the corner and locked, forming a hem edge above the line 
where the base flashing turns into the brick joint. The metal should be bent to 
fit very tight against slate in order to take up the shrinkage that develops in the 
rafters and sheathing. 




Fig. 18.3B. 

Saddle flashings may be made in one piece as shown, with V-shaped pieces 
locked and soldered to close openings. Large saddles are flashed in two pieces, 
with a locked and soldered seam at the ridge line of the saddle. The top shingle 
flashings are reinforced before setting, each with a small piece of copper soldered 



on the underside to close corners properly. The vertical seams are then locked 
and soldered. 

Narrow chimneys on steep roofs are frequently flashed without saddles by al- 
lowing the metal to extend 3 in. beyond the brickwork on each side and folding 
over the corner to form a triangle extending beyond the chimney. Both top shingle 
flashings must extend far enough under saddle flashing to prevent leakage. If the 
top of chimney is not properly cemented, water may penetrate between flue lin- 
ings and brickwork, and the resulting leaks may be attributed to nonexistent 
faults in the sheet-metal flashing. . . . 




Fig. 18.4. 

Vents. The copper vent-pipe flashing is turned under the slate or the shingle 
at the top and passes over the slate or shingle at the bottom. The sheet has a 
^/^-in. edge folded over on both sides of the vent to prevent water from driving 
under the slate. The copper cap is slit every % in., turned down in the pipe 2 in., 
and soldered. Special pipe fittings provided with a space to receive base flashing 
are frequently used, and where the pipe terminates without a thread, a threadless 
cap may be used. In another method shown, a flat piece of copper cut to a radius 
is neatly soldered to the cap-flashing tube. This operation is usually done in the 


New Houses from Old 

Ridges and hips. The beveled copper ridge covering of the type illustrated in 
Fig. 18.4 must be made slightly larger than the wood supports or difficulty will be 
experienced in springing the metal in pldce. A copper drive screw is recom- 
mended for attaching the copper, after which the hemmed edge is malleted to 
45° covering the nails. The flanges of the copper ridge roll must be made to fit 
tight against the slate. The copper drive screws are used to fasten the metal with 



Fig. 18.5. 

a 24-in. spacing. The intersection of the slate at the ridge line is flashed with 
8-ft. lengths of inverted V-shaped concealed flashings covered by the top courses 
of slate. A separate piece of concealed copper flashing, formed in an inverted 
V-shape, is laid in with each course of slate on hips, and occasionally on ridges, 
as shown. On hips, lugs are turned on the high side to prevent the copper from 
slipping below the slate. 



Intersections. Fig. 18.6 shows method of flashing at a change of slope in slate 
or shingle roofs. The copper on the upper side extends to just short of the 
nailing line and is cleated. On the lower slope it extends 4 in. to cover the nail 
holes. A cant strip, held with soldered straps, raises the butts of the last course 
on the upper slope to permit proper laying of the shingles. The exposed end is 






^^^^ CLEATS 

r^#" i8"o.a 




Fig. 18.6. 

screwed down with copper alloy screws through washers, if extended down so 
far that its own rigidity is not enough to keep the sheet tight. If a closed joint 
is desired, concealed flashing is used. On the upper slope the construction is the 
same as described above. On the lower slope the copper is carried down between 
the shingles. 

252 New Houses from Old 

Sheet lead, galvanized iron sheeting, sheet aluminum, and asphalt roll 
roofing are also used for flashings. Sheet lead is available in a soft temper 
that also in the form of an alloy known as hard lead. Recommended mini- 
mum weights for soft lead are 4 lb. per sq. ft. and for the hard lead, 
2 lb. per sq. ft. Galvanized iron or steel sheeting is not so easily worked 
as softer materials, and its cut edges are not protected by the zinc coating 
and covers the uncut sheet. When terneplate (steel coated with an alloy of 
tin and lead) is used for flashings, it should be painted on both sides before 
it is applied to the roof, unless it is already painted when purchased. The 
weight called IX should be used for flashings. When metal flashings are 
used, it is important not to use in conjunction with them nails made or 
coated with dissimilar metals, because when moisture is present, an elec- 
trical action may be set up that will result in the rapid corrosion of one 
of the metals. For example, if zinc-coated nails are used in the roof cover- 
ing, enough copper nails should be on hand to secure the flashings and 
the roof covering applied over their edges. 

Asphalt roll roofing is often used for flashings when the roof is to be 
covered with the same material or with asphalt shingles. It is an excellent 
material for valley flashings. A double thickness is used for valleys. The 
first layer can be made of a strip 18 in. wide. If the material is coated 
with mineral granules on one side, the mineral surface should be placed 
down. A strip 36 in. wide is used for the second layer and is placed with 
the mineral granules upward. 

This material is inferior to a corrosion-resistant metal for chimney 
flashings, but it is often used when the roofing job must be done at mini- 
mum cost. No cap flashing is used, and the flashings are not set into the 
mortar joints. Instead, flashing strips are fitted around the chimney and 
are turned up about 4 in. along its sides. The turned-up portions are 
cemented to the chimney with a plastic flashing cement. The same cement 
is then applied to the chimney above the flashing in a band about 4 in. 
wide, which is shaped with a trowel so that rain that strikes the chimney 
will be conducted to the outside of the flashing. A lightweight asphalt roll 
roofing or asphalt felt is better than heavy for chimney flashings. 

In addition to the methods shown (Fig. 18.5) for the flashing of soil- 
stack vents, flashing of these can also be done with manufactured flanges 
and collars. One type of lead flashing has the collar and flange in one piece. 
The unit is slipped over the top of the soil pipe and the flange is placed 
against the roof. The edges of the collar are then made tight against the 
soil pipe by tapping them with a mallet. Another type of vent-pipe flashing 
has a built-in adjustable joint that permits fitting it to roofs of different 

Roofs 253 

Usually it is better to install open rather than closed valleys when a 
roof is covered in remodeling, because open valleys drain faster and are 
less likely to become clogged with leaves. 

Roof-Covering Materials 

Roof areas are calculated in terms of the square, which is 100 sq. ft. 
A square of roof material is not, however, 100 sq. ft., but the amount of 
material required to cover 100 sq. ft. of roof. A roll of asphalt roofing 
designed to be lapped 2 in. contains 108 sq. ft., while roofing material, 
such as wood shingles, which is laid so that there are two or three layers 
of roofing over any spot in the roof, requires two or three times 100 sq. ft. 
of material to cover one square of roof. The term exposure to the weather 
— thus, 16-in. shingles with 3%-in. exposure to the weather — indicates the 
length of the portion of the shingle or roofing strip that is exposed in 
the finished roof. 

Wood shingles, mineral-surfaced asphalt shingles, slate shingles, asbestos- 
cement shingles, clay tile, asphalt roll roofing, galvanized steel, terneplate, 
zinc, sheet copper, and aluminum are some of the covering materials used 
on sloping roofs. The two main considerations in selecting a roofing material 
are its cost in relation to expected service and its suitability in relation to 
the age, architectural style, and setting of the house. 

Wood shingles. At one time wood shingles were the most popular roofing 
material for houses, but in recent years building-code requirements and the 
preferential rates given by fire-insurance companies when fire-resistant roof 
coverings are used have reduced their use in many localities. Nevertheless, 
wood shingles have many advantages. They make an attractive roof that 
looks right on wooden houses. They are easy to apply on both new and 
old roofs. When good-quality shingles are correctly laid, they produce a 
durable roof with desirable structural and insulating qualities. 

Wood shingles are manufactured from various species of weather-resistant 
wood, such as redwood, cypress, and red cedar. By far the larger proportion 
is made of western red cedar. The best-quality shingles are cut so that the 
edge of the grain is exposed in the surface of the shingle. Edge-grain 
shingles warp very little or not at all after they are applied to the roof. 
Flat-grain shingles are less expensive but are more likely to warp. Fig. 18.7 
shows the covering capacity of the three commercial lengths and also gives 
other data about wood shingles manufactured under the grade rules of the 
Red Cedar Shingle Bureau. 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 18.7 
Shingle Data 




Approximate bundle 
thickness, inches 

Number of 

per square 

Number of 



per square 









No. 1—24 in. (Royals) 
No. 1—18 in. (Perfections) 
No. 1—16 in. (Perfects 5X) 





61-i. to 7 

6H to 6^4 






No. 2—24 in. (16 in. clear) 
No. 2—18 in. (12 in. clear) 
No. 2 — 16 in. (12 in. clear) 





61/2 to 7 


6H to 6?4 







No. 3—24 in. (10 in. clear) 
No. 3 — 18 in. (8 in. clear) 
No. 3—16 in. (8 in. clear) 





65-4 to 6?4 


6 to6^i 


7 1/2 






Courtesy of Red Cedar Shingle Bureau 

Shingles are nailed to shingle lath, which may be applied directly to 
the rafters or may be nailed to solid sheathing. A doubled or tripled course 
of shingles is first laid at the eaves. In this course, the butt ends of the 
shingles are made flush over one another and are laid so that their ends 
project about 1 in. beyond the edge of the roof. Two nails should be placed 
in shingles of average width and three nails in extra-wide shingles. Only 
good-quality nails should be used. If you can afford them, use copper or 
copper-alloy nails, but steel roofing nails with a heavy zinc coating are 
usually used. The 3-penny size is suitable when the shingles are being nailed 
directly to lath, but longer nails are required in overroofing. 

Shingle bundles contain shingles of random width. Widths should be 
selected so that the joints in successive courses are broken (Fig. 18.8). If 
flat-grain shingles are being used, the center line of a heart should not come 
over a joint in the course below. Although some roofers soak shingles before 
applying them, it is considered better practice to lay the shingles dry and 
to space them not less than % in. apart. The best method of keeping the 
courses straight is to snap a chalk line to mark the position of the butt 
end of each course before it is laid. The best method of making hips and 
ridges is illustrated in Fig. 18.9. Factory-made hip and ridge units, prefabri- 
cated so that they have a similar appearance, are also available in con- 
venient lengths. 

Wood shingles can be applied over an old roof that is covered with wood 
shingles. The old roof should first be repaired so that it forms a sound and 



1 1/2" AT LEAST 




I r I'r, '1 '1 '1 T 

wrong ! 


(^Courtesy Red Cedar Shingle Bureau.) 
Fig. 18.8. — Joints and side laps in a wood-shingle roof. 

reasonably smooth surface. Rotted shingles should be removed and replaced. 
Warped shingles should be split and their separate halves nailed down 
with good roofing nails. Old valley flashings need not be removed, but 
valleys should be filled in with lumber that is thick enough to bring the 
surface of the valley about flush with the old roof covering. New valley 
flashings are then applied over the lumber. Flashings around dormers and 
at wall intersections need not be removed, but new flashings should be 
applied as for a new roof. Chimneys that are flashed with cap flashings and 
counterflashings are best handled by leaving the counterflashing in place 
but removing the cap flashing and replacing it with new. 

Along the eaves and gable ends, the old shingles are cut back a distance 
of 3 or 4 in., and these spaces are filled in with 1-in. boards. Drip from 
gables and the formation of icicles in the wintertime can be prevented by 
using a strip of bevel siding under the shingles, as shown in Fig. 18.10. Nails 
should be used that are long enough to pass through both the new and old 
shingles and to penetrate the sheathing about % in. If the old shingles are 
applied on shingle lath, not all of the new nails will strike the lath; but this 


New Houses from Old 

(.Courtesy Red Cedar Shingle Bureau.) 
Fig. 18.9. — Approved method of constructing a modified "Boston" hip. 

iCourfesy Red Cedar Shingle Bureau.) 

Fic. 18.10.— A beveled strip under the shingles along the gable ends is a good idea, 
particularly on old houses that may no longer be standing true. 

Roofs 257 

is not important, since some of them will strike it and the others will secure a 
good hold in the old shingles. 

Asphalt shingles. The base material for asphalt shingles is a special paper 
or felt that is impregnated with asphalt and is then coated with more 
asphalt. The surface that is to be exposed to the weather is given an addi- 
tional coating of mineral granules. The fiber composition of the base varies, 
but usually it has a high proportion of fiber obtained from rags. The 
material for the granules also varies. Sometimes they are made of crushed 
slate, but often they are made of other rock. The actual composition of 
the fiber base and the granules is somewhat less important than the weight 
of the finished material. Asphalt shingles are available in a variety of 
colors, sizes, and types. The principal types are illustrated in Fig. 18.11. 

Exact procedures for laying asphalt shingles will not be described be- 
cause manufacturers regularly supply specific instructions. However, the 
main procedure is fundamentally the same as the laying of a wood-shingle 
roof. Asphalt shingles are usually, but not always, placed over an underlay 
of asphalt-saturated felt weighing not less than 15 lb. per square or of 
asphalt-saturated and asphalt-coated building paper weighing about 10 lb. 
per square. The underlay is applied across the roof and the strips are lapped 
about 2 in. along their edges. A strip of galvanized metal about 3 in. wide 
is placed along the eayes and gables and is projected about ^ in. beyond 
the roof boards. The purpose of this strip is to prevent the shingles bending 
downward at these places. Hips and ridges can be covered with narrow 
strips of asphalt roll roofing (usually sold as ridge roll) or with shingles. 
If the latter are used, they can be placed over a flashing of ridge roll. 
Many types of asphalt shingles are nailed similarly to wood shingles, but 
some are made for use with wire staples and other special fastening devices. 

The preparations for overroofing with asphalt shingles are the same as 
for wood shingles unless the manufacturer of the asphalt shingle makes 
different recommendations. Sometimes when rather thin asphalt roofing is 
applied over an existing roof, the asphalt shingles sag into depressions in 
the old roof, thus creating bumps and high spots that are unsightly and 
may wear through rapidly. To prevent this, some roofers nail beveled strips 
of lumber horizontally between the courses of shingles to make a flatter 
surface for the new roofing material, but this is a somewhat expensive 
procedure. Another method of providing a level surface, which is applicable 
when heavy asphalt shingles are used, is nailing shingle strips to the old 
roof. However, when an old roof is so rough that strips are necessary to 
level it before applying asphalt shingles, it is better to remove the old 
roof covering. 

Asphalt shingles should never be applied over green or damp sheathing 


New Houses from Old 




STANDARD TYPE 9" X 12^/^" 

12" X 16" 





12 1/2- IN. SHINGLES 

16 X 16 

12 X 36 

10" X 36" 
12/^' X 36" 

250 lbs. 
306 lbs. 

138 lbs. 

200 lbs. 

195 lbs. 
240 lbs. 




II '/s X 36" 
12^3 X 36" 

Fig. 18.11. — Data on common types of asphalt shingles. 

157 lbs. 
220 lbs. 

or over a damp roof, because the changes in dimension that accompany 
drying of lumber will result in some movement of the shingle nails. When 
two nails that pass through the same shingle move closer together, as they 
do if they are nailed into the same board, the result will be a bulge in 
the shingle. If the nails move farther apart, as they will do if they are 
nailed into adjacent boards, the result may be tearing of the shingle. When 
bulging or tearing occurs in an asphalt roof, the only remedy is to pull the 
nails out of the affected shingles on a hot day and to smooth the shingles 
by pressing them with the hand or a board. Nails are then driven in new 
positions, and the old holes are filled with dabs of roofing cement. The 
repair will not last unless the roof sheathing is dry when it is done. 

Slate shingles. Slate shingles are one of the most permanent types of 
roofing materials. Years ago it was customary to buy ungraded slates. These 
slates were then sorted out by the roofer, and the thicker slates were 
applied over rafters and at such points as along the eaves and gables, the 
thinner slates were applied in the areas between, or the thick and thin 
slates were mixed throughout the roof according to some pattern worked 
out by the roofer. Modern slates are usually sorted into standard lengths 

Roofs 259 

and thicknesses by the manufacturer. The standard lengths in inches are 
as follows: 10, 12, 14, 16, 18, 20, 22, 24. The thickness used on house roofs 
now is most commonly the %g in., if a smooth-textured roof is wanted, 
or the % in., if a rough-textured roof is desired. Slates that are not graded 
as to thickness are still used on some modern roofs when a novelty effect 
is desired. 

Fig. 18.12 
Approximate Weights of Slate Shingles 





Approximate weight 
per square, pounds 

700 to 800 





It is commonly believed that a slate roof is extraordinarily heavy. This 
is true of the thicker slates, but a slate roof built of the -^^g-in. thickness 
weighs between 7 and 8 lb. per sq. ft. — about three times the weight of a 
standard shingle roof. This weight will not overload a well-constructed roof 
frame. However, slate should not be applied to an old roof frame in 
remodeling unless the frame is strong and sound. 

Slate roofs are applied over solid sheathing. The sheathing should be 
covered with asphalt roofing felt weighing not less than 15 lb. per square. 
The felt is laid horizontally with horizontal laps of 2% in. and vertical 
laps of 6 in. The underlay is applied also over hips and ridges. Hips and 
ridges should be covered also with copper flashing. The recommended maxi- 
mum exposures to the weather are as follows: 10-in. slate — 31'4-in. expo- 
sure; 12 in. — 4^^ in.; 14 in. — 5% in.; 16 in. — 6^ in. 

Only top-quality corrosion-resistant nails should be used in a slate roof, 
because such a roof is designed for permanence. The nails should be 
driven carefully. H driven too tightly, they will break through the slate 
when they are driven or will crack it when changing moisture conditions 
cause the sheathing to swell or shrink. If they are driven too loosely, they 
will project above the top of the slate and interfere with the slate in the 
next course. Seams in successive courses of slates should be staggered. 
This is accomplished when slates of a single uniform width are used by 
having on hand a number of slates one and one-half times this width and 
starting every other course with one of these wider slates. A strip of bev- 

260 New Houses from Old 

eled lumber is nailed along the eaves before the first course of slates is laid. 

Slates are regularly furnished with two holes for nails. However, it is 
usually necessary to make some holes on the job. Holes are made most 
easily with a slater's punch, but a few of them can be made in emergencies 
with a metal-cutting drill. A drilled hole should be countersunk slightly to 
provide room for the nailhead. Cutting of slate should be avoided as much 
as possible, but some cutting is unavoidable when slates must be placed 
around chimneys and over flues. Cutting is done with a slater's knife. 
The slate is first scored along the line of the cut. The scored slate is placed 
over the edge of a piece of lumber or a slater's stake so that the part to 
be cut off overhangs and is then struck with the knife. Small slate-cutting 
machines, which operate somewhat like the familiar paper cutter, are avail- 
able and should be obtained if much slate is to be applied. 

Ashestos-ceinent shingles. Asbestos-cement shingles are factory made of 
asphalt fiber and Portland cement. They are very durable and are fireproof. 
Asbestos-cement shingles may be applied to the roof sheathing or over other 
roof coverings. In either case, they should be applied on a sound surface. 
Only good-quality roofing nails should be used. Asbestos shingles can be 
cut easily by scoring them and then bending them over a piece of lumber. 
Manufacturers' directions for application should be obtained and strictly 

Copper roofing. Copper offers many advantages as a roofing material. 
Under most conditions, its durability is very high. Furthermore, it is light 
in weight, and in contrast to some metals used for roofing it requires no 
painting or similar maintenance. Fig. 18.13 shows the construction details 
of a residential copper roof. Note that the units of the roof are applied as 
"pans," which are formed from strips of copper 16 in. wide and 6 ft. long. 
Note also that there are no nails through the pans. Standing seams of the 
type illustrated are formed on the roof with roofing tongs. Horizontal seams 
in this type of roofing are formed by folding. Soldered seams are, however, 
necessary at some points such as corners of chimneys. 

The laying of a copper roof is relatively simple, but some knowledge of 
sheet metalworking is required. Copper roofs should not be applied over 
old roof coverings. A smooth, solid deck of good-quality sheathing is neces- 
sary as a base. Manufacturers' directions should be followed as to the under- 
lay and other details. 

Terneplate. Terneplate roofs are usually encountered on such locations 
as decks and porch roofs of very low pitch. Terneplate is a lightweight and 
fireproof material, but it requires painting to keep it from rusting. A new 
roof of this material should always be applied by an experienced roofer or 
sheet metalworker. 











{.Courtesy American Brass Company.) 

Fig. 18.13. — Construction details of a copper roof. 

262 New Houses from Old 

Two types of seams are used. Flat seams are formed by lapping the 
sheets about 1 in. and soldering the lap. The soldering must be carefully 
done, because such a lap is structurally weak and expansion and contrac- 
tion of the sheets put a considerable strain on it. Seams that are rolled or 
folded before soldering are more durable and less likely to leak. 

Other metals. Galvanized roofing is often found on farmhouses that are 
purchased for remodeling, but it is seldom applied as a new roof covering 
when a house is remodeled. Other kinds of metal roofs, such as zinc, lead, 
and aluminum, will not be covered in this book because they are seldom 
found on old houses and are not widely used on new ones. Their omission 
should not be taken as an indication that the authors feel that these roofing 
materials have no merit. Rather, if such roofs have given satisfaction in 
your locality, they are worth investigation ; and information about them 
should be obtained from your architect, building-supply dealer, or manu- 
facturers. At the present time, aluminum roofing is being actively promoted, 
and the indications are that it will prove to be a popular and satisfactory 
roofing material. 

Built-up roofs. Roofs on flat surfaces, such as sun decks and sleeping 
porches, are often covered with built-up roofs made with lapped layers of 
roofing felt embedded in pitch or asphalt. The building of such roofs can be 
done satisfactorily only by experienced roofers who have the necessary 
equipment. Roofs of this type are surfaced with gravel, or a special grade 
of slag, or with mineral-surfaced asphalt roll roofing. Their advantage is 
that walking on them does not injure them or cause leaks if the roof has been 
properly constructed. 

Canvas roofs. Canvas bedded in white lead paste is sometimes used as the 
covering material on exposed flat decks. Such a roof will be satisfactory 
only if it is placed on a smooth, tight surface. The deck should first be 
covered with narrow (not over 4 in.) tongued-and-grooved boards that are 
free of knotholes. Nailheads should be countersunk. After the wood has 
been made smooth and swept clean, it is covered with a paste made by 
thinning white lead paste with linseed oil or linseed replacement oil. Heavy- 
weight canvas of the type used for sails and for covering decks on boats is 
then placed in the wet paste. The seams are nailed with tacks made of copper 
or other corrosion-resistant metal. The canvas is stretched as it is tacked. 
A tack is driven about every 2 in. along the edge of the first strip. The 
second strip is then lapped 2 in. or more on the first, and tacks are driven 
in its edge so that the finished seam has a tack in approximately each inch 
along the whole length. The strips are turned up 4 to 6 in. at wall inter- 
sections and are cemented at these points with the lead paste. After the 
canvas is laid, it is given two coats of the lead paste, which may be applied 

Roofs 263 

with a stiff brush or a broad putty knife. There should be an interval of 
three to seven days between application of the two coats. A deck covering 
made this way will last a long time if it is repainted every two or three 
years with a good-quality lead-in-oil paint. 

Draining the Roof: Gutters, Downspouts, and Dry Wells 

Gutters (Fig. 18.14) can be made of wood, but they are usually made of 
metal. If made of wood, the wood should be of a decay-resistant species, 
such as redwood or cypress. If wood gutters are hung so that they drain 
completely, they do not require a metal lining. Galvanized steel, zinc, and 
copper are the principal materials used for metal gutters. Galvanized steel 
or iron should not be lighter than 26 gauge, and it should have a coating 
of not less than 1^ oz. of zinc (total weight both sides) per sq. ft. of metal. 
Metal with a 2-oz. coating of zinc is worth its extra cost. If the gutters are 
to be painted, galvanized metal that has been prepared by the manufacturer 
for painting should be used, or the surfaces to be painted must be given a 
special treatment (Chapter 23). Gutters of galvanized metal eventually rust 
through and require replacement. Sheet copper in hard "cornice temper" 
and weighing not less than 16 oz. per sq. ft. is an attractive and nearly 
permanent material for gutters, but precautions should be taken not to place 
another metal in direct contact with it. Thus the portions of the gutter 
hangers that are in contact with the gutter should also be copper, and the 
strainers placed over the downspout connections should be of copper wire. 

House gutters should measure not less than 4 in. across the top and 
should be larger if an unusually large area of roof drains into a single 
gutter. Gutters are given a slight but steady slope toward the downspouts. 
Gutters that hang from the eaves should be supported by strong hangers 
spaced not over 3 ft. apart. In regions where there is considerable snow, 
the gutter should be placed so that its outer edge is about 1 in. below a 
line formed by the projection of the roof to allow snow to slide off the 
roof without clogging the gutter. The old-style "pole" gutter, which was 
constructed of lumber and placed on the slope of the roof 1 or 2 ft. from 
the eaves is not very satisfactory, especially in regions with heavy snowfall. 

The same metals used for gutters are also used for downspouts (leaders). 
Downspouts are made both in round and rectangular shapes. Both styles 
are usually made with corrugations to allow for expansion if water freezes 
in them. Round downspouts should be not less than 3 in. in diameter, and 
rectangular ones not less than 2 in. by 3 in. in cross section. About 1 sq. in. 
of downspout area should be provided for each 100 sq. ft. of roof. 

In some cities rain water may be discharged into the same sewer that 


New Houses from Old 









• Xi 






































Roofs 265 

carries sewage. In still others it may be discharged into a sejaarate storm 
sewer; but in many cities and, of course, in rural regions, it must be dis- 
posed of in some other way. The usual method is to run it into structures 
called dry wells. A dry well is nothing more than an excavation 3 or 4 ft. 
deep that is filled with medium-sized stones up to a level about 1 ft. below 
the surface of the ground and then covered with soil; but this is not a very 
satisfactory kind for the reason that eventually soil and organic matter will 
fill all of the spaces between the stones. When this occurs, the water from 
the roof will back up in the tile and the downspouts. A much better type 
of dry well is a walled excavation (Fig. 18.14), which can also be covered 
with soil but can be opened and cleaned every year or two. Dry wells should 
be located at least 8 ft. from the foundation walls of the house in order to 
prevent the water that flows into them from finding its way under the 
foundation or into the basement. 

Repairing Roof Leaks 

The first problem in repairing a roof leak is to find it. This is not always 
easy, because water that comes through a roof will often travel a consider- 
able distance along the top of a rafter or some other concealed part of the 
frame before it emerges where it can be seen. If the underside of the roof 
is exposed, as in an unfinished attic, it should be inspected during a rain- 
storm and the water traced back from the point where it is discovered to 
the place where it comes through the roof. If the roof covering is wood 
shingles or some other material through which a nail can be pushed, the 
position of the leak can be marked with a nail inserted from the underside 
and forced through far enough so that it can be seen from the outside. If 
the roof is made of slate or some other hard material, measurements can 
be taken horizontally to an outer wall and in the opposite direction along the 
slope to the eaves. The same measurements are then repeated on the top 
side of the roof with allowances made for the thickness of the walls and 
the depth of the overhang beyond the walls. 

If the underside of the roof is concealed, finding a leak is more difficult. 
The search must be made from the outside, and the defect to be looked for 
will depend largely on the material with which the roof is covered. Split and 
warped shingles are the most common causes of leaks in wood-shingle roofs, 
split or missing slates in slate roofs, loose nails or holes caused by rusting 
in corrugated metal roofs, whereas metal roofs made of sheets laid flat leak 
most frequently at the seams. Flashings should always be suspected when 
a roof leaks in the vicinity of chimneys, soil-pipe vents, and valleys. 

Roofs made of asphalt shingles, slate, or tile, which are watertight in an 

266 New Houses from Old 

ordinary rain, will sometimes leak during a hard, driving rain. The fault in 
such a case may be that the roof covering was applied on a roof of lower 
pitch than the slope for which it was designed, or that it was installed with 
too little head lap, or that an underlay was omitted. In the case of asphalt 
shingles, the trouble may be that the exposed ends of the shingles blow 
up in a strong wind. 

Once the leak is found, the method of repair depends also on the type of 
roofing material. The last-mentioned type of leak is the most difficult to 
repair. If the roof is slate, it is usually necessary to remove the entire roof 
covering, to apply an underlay of roofing felt, and to replace the slates. A 
few asphalt shingles that have lost their stiffness can be fastened down by 
nailing their exposed ends with roofing nails, then covering the nailheads 
with roofing cement; but an asphalt shingle roof that blows up in the wind 
over a large part of its area should usually be replaced. However, if the 
material in the roof is still in serviceable condition, blowing up can be 
cured by fastening the shingles down with wire staples. These staples are 
similar to the wire staples used in offices to fasten paper. A staple-tacking 
machine is required to apply them. 

A leak caused by a split or slightly warped wood shingle can often be 
effectively repaired with a small strip of asphalt roofing about the same 
width as the shingle. The asphalt strip is coated moderately thickly on both 
sides with roofing cement and shoved under the defective shingle. Two 
roofing nails, preferably of copper, are then driven through the wood 
shingle and the asphalt strip and their heads covered with dabs of roofing 
cement. Considerable areas of warped shingles are best replaced with new 
shingles, which can be stained to match the roof. The courses first placed 
in the patch are nailed through their concealed ends in the usual way. The 
last course or two, which cannot be so nailed, is laid in roofing cement, and 
the exposed ends of the shingles are each nailed with one or two copper 
roofing nails. 

Missing or broken slates in a slate roof should be replaced with new 
slates. All fragments of a broken slate should be removed if possible. Roofers 
use a slater's hook to reach under a course of slates and remove concealed 
nails. If such a tool is not available, the nails can sometimes be cut off 
with a hack-saw blade. A piece of sheet copper is cut in the same width 
as the replacement slate. One end of the strip is turned down about Y^ in., 
and the copper is placed in the gap so that the turned end hooks over the 
upper end of a slate that is firmly attached in the roof. The replacement 
slate is slid in on top of the copper, which is then cut off and turned up 
over the exposed end of the replacement slate (Fig. 18.15). 

Replacement of flat shingle tile in a tile roof can be done in the same 



way; but replacement of interlocking, French, Spanish, and mission tiles 
is difficult and should be done by an experienced roofer. Temporary repairs 
to a tile roof can be made by covering the defective area with a piece of 
asphalt roofing. The upper edge is shoved under tiles that are still attached 
to the roof, and the lower edge is held down with roofing cement. 








A B 

Fig. 18.15. — Two methods of replacing a slate. A. The new slate is held in place 
with a hooked copper strip. B. The new slate is nailed, then the nails are covered 
with a copper strip held in place with roofing cement. 

Small holes in a metal roof can be patched with a dab of roofing cement. 
Larger holes can be covered with a square of canvas or even with cotton 
sheeting, which is buttered on both sides with roofing cement, then pasted 
down over the hole. Nails that have backed out of galvanized iron roofing 
should be replaced with zinc-clad nails % to 1 in. longer than the original 
nails. Sometimes it is necessary to drive the new nail in another spot and to 
patch the old hole. Leaky seams in flat metal roofs can be repaired by 
soldering, but a simpler and effective method in most cases is to work roofing 
cement into them with a putty knife. 

Leaks in asphalt roll roofing can be repaired by coating the area around 
the hole or crack with roofing cement, then nailing a patch of the same type 
of roofing over it. Viscous roof coatings, usually made of a bituminous 
material combined with fiber and a solvent, are available that are designed 
to be mopped over the entire surface of a metal-, asphalt-, or wood-shingle 
roof. If they are applied according to the manufacturers' directions, they 

268 New Houses from Old 

can be expected to make a poor roof watertight for a while; but because a 
roof repaired in this way is not attractive, such materials are seldom put on 
house roofs. Occasionally they are useful when a house is being remodeled 
piecemeal and when some other part of the program must take precedence 
over the replacement of the roof covering. Asphalt-shingle roofs are often 
found that are still fairly good but are unsightly because a large proportion 
of the mineral granules have come loose and have been washed off. Coating 
materials that contain mineral granules are available for rejuvenating such 

Leaks in built-up roofs, such as are used on flat decks, occur most often 
where the roofing material is turned up against a wall. Often an application 
of asphalt emulsion or roofing cement at these points will cure the leak; 
but stubborn cases may require rebuilding of the flashing. Damaged areas 
and large holes in a built-up roof must be repaired by stripping them down 
to the wood underlay and rebuilding with layers of roofing felt and asphalt. 
The felt in the patch must be skillfully lapped into the layers of the original 
roof, hence this type of repair is better done by an experienced roofer. Low 
spots in built-up asphalt roofs can be filled in with a mixture made of Port- 
land cement, a water emulsion of asphalt, and sand, or with factory-mixed 
compounds. The wet mix is applied to the low spot with a trowel and is 
floated to a smooth finish. One or two layers of asphalt felt or roll roofing 
are then applied over the entire roof. 

Holes in the exposed part of a valley flashing can be repaired temporarily 
by filling them with roofing cement. If the metal in the valley is corroded 
in a number of places, the valley should be painted with an asphalt paint 
to prolong the life of the repairs. Valleys that leak because the flashings are 
not wide enough can be fixed only by replacing the narrow flashing with a 
wider one. The flashing on old chimneys is sometimes lacking entirely and 
is frequently in poor condition. Flashings that are cemented to the outside 
of a chimney eventually give trouble because the swaying of the chimney in 
the wind together with the drying out of the cement cause them to come 
loose. Temporary repairs can be made to asphalt-felt flashing by sticking 
the flashing down again with fresh cement, but metal chimney flashings that 
have rusted through must be replaced. 

When a house is remodeled, it usually pays to install metal chimney 
flashings. Installation of metal flashings is not difficult on existing chimneys 
made of brick or other small masonry units. The old mortar is dug out of 
the joints to a depth of 1^^ or 2 in. The ends of the flashing are then in- 
serted and the joints filled again with Portland-cement mortar or an asphaltic 
flashing compound. Installation of flashings on stone chimneys is accom- 
plished in the same way if the stone is laid more or less in courses. If it is 

Roofs 269 

random fieldstone, the chimney must be taken down to the roof line and 
rebuilt so that straight joints occur where they are needed. Roofers some- 
times extend metal flashings through the chimney wall and turn them up on 
the inside. This should not be done on a stone chimney. 

"Weeping" Roofs 

A "weeping" roof should not be mistaken for one that leaks. This condi- 
tion occurs most often when the roof is covered with a material that has a 
high conductivity for heat and a low permeability to water vapor. Such 
materials include metal roofing and asphalt shingles. The moisture that 
collects on the underside of such a roof is formed by condensation when the 
warm air from the interior of the house strikes the cold undersurface of the 
roof. The trouble can be cured in two ways. The simplest and cheapest is to 
provide enough ventilation under the roof to evaporate the moisture as it 
forms. This can be done easily in attics that are not used for living quarters 
by installing louvers that remain open the year round. The other way is to 
install insulation and a vapor barrier (Chapter 25) on the underside of the 
roof. This is the method that should be used when the space cannot be con- 
tinuously ventilated. 

Working on Roofs 

An experienced roofer has no difficulty working in safety on roofs of all 
types because he has learned the tricks of his trade and the value of being 
careful; but climbing about on roofs is hazardous for the inexperienced 
person. The most convenient safety device for doing small jobs of repair 
on a roof is a ladder with a hook on its upper end that can be hooked over 
the ridge of the roof. Such hooks can be purchased at hardware stores. The 
same type of ladder can be used to work from when roofing is applied up 
and down the roof, but a plank toe-hold scaffold is needed when roofing is 
applied across the slope of the roof. Some roofers nail wooden supports for 
such scaffolds through the roof covering, but this practice makes holes in the 
new roof. A better scheme is to use slotted steel brackets or anchors, which 
can be purchased ready-made. These are nailed to the roof ahead of the 
new roof covering. The covering is applied over them. When it becomes 
necessary to move the scaffold, the slots make it possible to work the 
brackets off the nails, which are left under the roof covering. 



Exterior Walls 


Many colonial houses, and some houses of more recent date, were not 
sheathed. Sheathing was usually omitted when the space between the framing 
members in the wall was filled with nogging, and it was sometimes omitted 
even when the walls were not filled. Sheathing is now treated as an im- 
portant structural element. If it is correctly applied, it adds considerably to 
the stiffness and strength of the frame. Its other functions are to retard the 
passage of air and heat through the wall and to serve as a base for the 
siding material. 

Lumber sheathing. The sheathing material most commonly found in exist- 
ing houses is lumber. Lumber of 1-in. nominal thickness in 4-, 6-, or 8-in. 
widths is used. The boards can be applied horizontally (Fig. 17.1) or diag- 
onally (Fig. 17.3). Tests made by the United States Forest Products Labora- 
tory demonstrated that the gain in strength when the sheathing is applied 
diagonally is very large. Diagonal application is especially necessary on 
balloon frames and on platform frames if diagonal corner braces are omitted. 
However, diagonal sheathing should not be used under stucco. The braced 
frame, particularly the old type of heavy braced frame, does not usually 
require the additional strength of diagonal sheathing. 

Tongued-and-grooved boards are recommended for diagonal sheathing 
because they result in a stronger wall, but square-edged boards are often 
used. Long boards are probably better, even though their use involves con- 
siderable waste. To avoid waste and to make the sheathing easier to apply, 
short lengths of tongued-and-grooved end-matched lumber are now some- 
times used. Tongued-and-grooved boards are recommended also for hori- 
zontal sheathing, because the joints produced will leak less air. Square- 
edged boards are satisfactory if they are well covered with sheathing paper 
or other tight material. Two nails should be driven in each board where it 
bears on a stud, corner post, or other framing member. 

Lumber sheathing is still extensively used in house construction, but 


Exterior Walls 271 

various types of manufactured sheathing board have come into wide use in 
recent years, and most of them are as applicable to remodeling as to new 

Plywood sheathing. Plywood sheathing can be made of several woods. 
In this country a large proportion of it is manufactured of Douglas fir. 
Plywood for sheathing purposes that is manufactured by members of the 
Douglas Fir Plywood Association is trade-marked "Plyscord" or "Ext- 
DFPA." The essential difference between the two types is that the adhesives 
used in "Plyscord" are water resistant but not waterproof, whereas the ad- 
hesives used in "Ext-DFPA" are waterproof synthetic resins. Either "Plys- 
cord" or "Ext-DFPA" can be used for exterior walls when the sheathing is 
to be covered with siding. Plywood sheathing is manufactured in various 
widths, but the 3- and 4-ft. widths are used most commonly for sheathing. 
These widths are manufactured in the following standard thicknesses: %6, 
%, ^^, and % inches. "Plyscord" and the sheathing grade of "Ext-DFPA" 
are made in 8-ft. lengths. 

Plywood sheathing that will be covered with siding can be nailed with 
common nails. The 6-penny size is satisfactory for thicknesses up to and 
including % in., and the 8-penny size is used for the %-in. thickness. Nails 
should be driven not farther apart than 6 in. along the edges of panels and 
not more than 12 in. apart on other bearings. 

Other types of sheathing hoard. Fibrous sheathing boards are also widely 
used. In general, this type of sheathing material is made of sugar-cane fiber 
(bagasse), wood fiber, or some other vegetable material that is specially 
processed and is then compressed into panels. The base material may be 
impregnated with asphalt during the process of manufacture to increase its 
resistance to water, or the panel may be encased in water-resistant paper. 
Another type of sheathing board is made of gypsum, which also may be 
encased in water-resistant paper or given some other treatment to make it 
resistant to water. These sheathing materials are offered in various dimen- 
sions, but the most common thicknesses are % in. and ^%2 i^^- Th^ usual 
widths are 2 or 4 ft. The narrow width is designed for horizontal applica- 
tion to the house frame and the greater width for vertical application. A 
variety of lengths is available, but such lengths as 6, 8, 9, 10, and 12 — all in 
feet — are standard. Sheathing of these types is usually nailed with 8-penny 
common nails spaced 4 to 6 in. along all bearings, but manufacturers' recom- 
mendations for nailing should be followed. 

Application of sheathing board. Although all types of sheathing board 
can be cut on the job with handsaws or power saws, the choice of a size 
that can be applied with little cutting will save time and result in better 
joints. Standard widths of sheathing board are designed for application to 

272 New Houses from Old 

frames in which the studs and other parts of the frame have standard 
spacing. If the house you are remodeling has some other spacing, it may be 
necessary to insert a few new studs in the walls at the right intervals to 
provide bearings for the sheets. Wood blocking is inserted between studs 
for nailing the ends of panels and joints that fall between framing members. 
It is a good idea to protect the edges of sheathing board with paint or 
calking material, especially near wall openings, at corners, and at the 
bottom edge of the wall. The edges of plywood sheets may be painted with 
two coats of a good oil paint before they are applied to the wall. The 
calking of joints with an elastic, waterproof calking compound increases 
the tightness of the wall. Metal flashings, placed with their upper ends 
turned up behind the sheathing board, are recommended over window and 
door openings. 

Sheathing Paper 

After the sheathing is applied, sheathing paper — also called building 
paper — is usually applied over it. The only function of the paper is to 
reduce air leakage through the wall, and in this it is very effective. It is 
particularly important to apply it to walls that are sheathed with lumber 
sheathing, since this type of sheathing has many joints that are far from 
airtight. Sheathing paper is not so necessary when the wall is sheathed 
with a tight material that is applied in large units, such as plywood, fiber 
sheathing boards, and gypsum board, particularly if the joints between the 
units are calked. Water-resistant building paper is the most commonly used 
sheathing paper. Asphalt-saturated felt is another good material. The ma- 
terial should not have a high degree of resistance to the passage of water 
vapor unless a more effective vapor barrier (Chapter 25) is to be installed 
on the inside of the wall. 


Board siding. Early colonial frame houses were often sided with boards 
of a uniform thickness that were lapped over one another on the wall (Fig. 
19.1A). Although these boards (called clapboards) gave much the same 
appearance to finished walls as some modern types of board siding, they 
did not fit closely to the wall, and, therefore, as soon as they had warped 
a little, they were relatively ineffective in preventing air infiltration. The 
next development was beveled siding, which is thinner at one edge than at 
the other and, therefore, makes a closer but still imperfect fit with the wall. 
Somewhat later, various types of siding that do make a tight fit against the 

Exterior Walls 


wall were introduced. At tlie present time board siding is manufactured in 
stock widths of 4, 6, 8, 10, and 12 in., the latter two widths usually being 
available only in beveled siding. The thickness of regular types of board 
siding is usually less than 1 in. Beveled siding, for example, is ^g in. thick 
at its narrower edge and ranges from Yiq to ^^Ig i^^- ^t the wider edge, 
the greater thickness occurring in the larger widths. 

Only dry lumber, either air- or kiln-dried, should be used for siding, 
because green lumber may warp or split after it has been applied to the 


Fig. 19.1. — Types of board siding. A. Clapboards. B. Beveled siding. C. Shiplapped 
beveled siding. D. Rustic siding. E. Drop siding. 

wall. New siding should be carefully protected from the weather from the 
time it is delivered until it is applied to the house. It is good practice to 
paint both sides and the edges of siding with a priming coat of lead and oil 
paint before the material is placed on the wall. If this is not done, the ends 
of boards should be painted with a good lead and oil paint, and the ex- 
terior face of the boards should be painted as soon as possible after they 
are applied to the house. 

Good nailing is important. Zinc-clad siding nails are best. Sometimes 
siding is applied with common nails, which are countersunk after being 
driven. The holes over the nails are then filled with putty before the house 
is painted. However, this method requires more time and offers little ad- 
vantage since it is difficult to putty the holes so that they will be any less 
conspicuous than nailheads. The siding should be cut and applied so that 
joints will be few in number. If a soft type of sheathing has been used, the 
joints must be made over solid members of the frame; but board siding 
may be nailed to lumber or plywood sheathing without regard to the frame. 


New Houses from Old 

Joints should be staggered so that no joint will be over another one in the 
two courses immediately below. If possible, the siding should be applied so 
that the courses at the top of windows and doors and, also, at the bottom of 
windows will be full width. This is easily accomplished by adjusting the 
depth of the lap in lapped or rabbeted siding. The joints of tongued-and- 
grooved siding cannot be adjusted; therefore, when these types of siding 
are used, boards must be cut to fit where they pass under and over openings. 

A B C 

Fig. 19.2. — Corner constructions. A. Siding butted against corner boards. B. Corner 
boards nailed over siding. This is a poor method, which should be avoided. C. 
Mitered corner. 

Corner details are shown in Fig. 19.2. Cutting of accurate miters on siding 
of uniform thickness is easy if a miter box is used. Good miters can be cut on 
beveled siding by placing two pieces with their thick and thin edges alter- 
nated in the box and sawing them as one board. The quantity of board siding 
needed to cover a house can be estimated by measuring the number of square 
feet in the area of wall to be covered (minus door and window openings) 
and adding the appropriate percentage shown in Fig. 19.3. 

Wood-shingle siding. Wood shingles are an attractive, durable, and rela- 
tively inexpensive siding material. Since hand-split shakes were used on 
the walls of some very old houses and the use of shakes, or shingles, as 
siding has continued to this day, shingle siding is appropriate on houses 
of several styles and periods. Old shingle walls were usually allowed to 
weather and thus to acquire a natural finish, but the final color was often 
lighter on the north side of the house than on the sides exposed to direct 
sunlight. Later, shingle stains were introduced, and shingle siding was often 
given a uniform color by staining the shingles before or after they were 
applied to the wall. Although shingle stains are still extensively used, 

Exterior Walls 


Fig. 19.3 

Percentages to Be Added to Net Area of Wall in Estimating Wooden Board Siding 

Type of siding 


Percentage * 

Rustic and drop (shiplapped) 







Rustic and drop (dressed and 










50 (lap, H in.) 


38 (lap, 1 in.) 


38 (lap, II4 in.) 


34 (lap, Ih in-) 


28 (lap, IJ2 in.) 

* Including 5 per cent for waste in fitting. 

(.Courtesy Red Cedar Shingle Bureau.) 

Fig. 19.4. — Double-coursed wood shingles and white paint produce an attractive 
wall finish. 


New Houses from Old 

shingle siding is now often painted (Fig. 19.4) the same as other wooden 

Shingle side walls can be either single coursed or double coursed. Double 
coursing (Fig. 19.5) makes a tighter wall, and it also produces deeper 
shadow lines, which add to the attractiveness of the house. For the best 
effect, the courses should be adjusted so that even lines will be made with 
the tops and bottoms of window frames and other openings in the wall. 
Novelty effects can be obtained by using shingles of two or three lengths 
(Fig. 19.6). 


N0.2 0R NO. 3 SHINGLE 






iCoiirtrsy Red Crdar Shingle Bureau.') 
Fig. 19.5. — Shingle side-wall details. 

Wood-shingle siding is best if laid over solid lumber or plywood sheath- 
ing. The shingles are nailed to the sheathing with good-quality rust-resistant 
nails. A good system of nailing is to use one nail in the tip of the shingle 
that will be covered and to drive two nails through the exposed butt about 
3 in. from the butt end and about % iii- fi'om the sides of the shingle (Fig. 
19.5). Shingle siding can be applied over the softer sheathing boards, also; 
but nailing strips of 1-in. by 3-in. lumber applied over the sheathing are 

Exterior Walls 


{Courtesy Red Cedar Shingle Btireau.) 
Fig. 19.6. — Novelty effect obtained by varying the exposure of alternate shingles. 

recommended with such sheathing. The strips should be spaced so that their 
centers are the same distance apart as the length of the weather exposure 
of the shingles. The shingles can be laid tight or with a gap of % to % in. 
between the shingles. Corners can be finished with corner boards (Fig. 19.2) 
or by the methods illustrated in Fig. 19.7. Inside corners can be made with 
or without corner boards.' If corner boards are not used, the corners should 
be underlaid with a metal flashing. 

Plywood siding. Plywood is the newest type of wood siding material. It is 
not likely that you will find it on a house that you are planning to remodel, 
but you may wish to use it in re-siding a house or for siding an addition. 
Only plywood that is made with waterproof adhesive is suitable for siding. 
Plywood in grades suitable for use as siding is manufactured in panels 4, 5, 


New Houses from Old 

6, 7, and 8 ft. long, and in widths that begin at 12 in. and increase in 2-in. 
steps to 30 in., and also in 36-, 42-, and 48-in. widths. Thicknesses run from 
/le to ^/^ie ill- ii^ increments of Y^q in. The %- or %-in. thicknesses are 
commonly used when the siding is applied over sheathing, but the use of a 
thickness that matches the thickness of the siding that was removed will save 
the expense of altering window frames and doorframes in remodeling. 

(.Courtesy Red Cedar Shingle Bureau.) 

Fig. 19.7. — Corners in shingle siding. Left, a "laced" corner. Center, shingles 
butted against corner boards. Right, a mitered corner. 

Before plywood siding is applied to the wall, the edges of the panels 
should be painted with a lead and oil paint of fairly heavy consistency. In 
damp climates, it is good practice to paint also the backs of the panels with 
a priming coat. Vertical joints should occur over studs or other heavy 
framing members, whether the panels are applied horizontally or vertically. 
A solid backing for horizontal joints must be provided. If the house is 
sheathed with lumber sheathing, this sheathing is backing enough. If other 
types of sheathing were employed, wood blocking should be nailed between 
the studs where joints will occur. Plywood siding should be nailed with hot- 
dipped galvanized or other corrosion-resistant nails spaced not more than 
6 in. apart along panel edges and not more than 12 in. apart at bearings 
away from the edges. Corner boards are used to finish the corners. These 
can be nailed to the sheathing and the plywood panels butted against them 
or they can be applied over the plywood. 

Exterior Walls 279 

Asbestos-cement shingles and siding. These siding materials have similar 
qualities to asbestos-cement shingles for roofs. They are fireproof and very 
durable. Freedom from the necessity of repainting is supposed to be one of 
the points in their favor, but asbestos-cement shingles and siding manu- 
factured before World War II have given trouble in some localities from 
staining and deterioration of the surface finish. However, a new type of 
factory-applied finish that will be more permanent is on the way. In general, 
these materials should be applied over a solid type of sheathing such as 
lumber or plywood. However, before attempting the application of this type 
of siding, you should obtain directions from the manufacturer. The house 
shown in Fig. 2.12 was re-sided with asbestos-cement shingles and that in 
Fig. 19.9 with asbestos-cement siding. 


In the early days of housebuilding in this country, stucco was commonly 
made of lime mortar. Magnesite stucco is a later type that was made of sand, 
asbestos, and compounds of magnesium. Either of these types may be en- 
countered in remodeling, but most stucco applied in recent years and at the 
present time is made of Portland cement, lime, and sand. These ingredients 
are mixed with water, and the mixture is applied in two or three coats over 
a backing of waterproof paper and metal lath. 

Portland-cement stucco is a durable and fire-resistant, but not fireproof, 
material. It is often used to modernize the exteriors of houses. However, 
for good results careful attention must be paid to all details of the applica- 
tion. Good pamphlets for the homeowner (and the contractor, too, for that 
matter) to read on the subject are the Portland Cement Association's 
Plasterer's Manual for Applying Portland Cement Stucco and Plaster and 
the National Bureau of Standards' Recommendations for Portland Cement 
Stucco Construction and its Finishes and Maintenance of Portland Cement 
Stucco Construction. The application of stucco should be undertaken only by 
skilled workmen. 

Stone and Brick Veneer 

The exteriors of frame houses are sometimes finished with a veneer of 
brick or stone. The frame of the house is built and is covered with sheathing 
in essentially the same way as if it were to be sided with some other material. 
The veneer of brick or stone is then applied over the sheathing to give the 
house a siding which is very durable and fireproof and which has the ap- 
pearance of a stone or brick house, as the case may be. If brick is used, 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 19.8. Before. 

Fig. 19.9.— After. 

{Hedrich-Blessing Studio. Courtesy United States Gypsum Company.) 

Exterior Walls 281 

the veneer is usually the thickness of one standard brick, 3% in. The same 
thickness is adequate for stone veneer if cut stone (ashlar masonry) is used; 
but if the veneer is constructed of fieldstone, the thickness should not be 
less than 12 in. The construction of a typical veneered wall is diagramed in 
Fis. 19.13. 

Re-siding and Over-walling 

If the siding on the house is quite dilapidated (Fig. 2.11), re-siding with 
new material is necessary if the remodeled house is to be attractive. Some- 
times replacement of siding that is in good condition is worth while if the 
house will gain considerably in appearance. Not all of the improvement in 
the remodeled house shown in Figs. 19.8 and 19.9 can be credited to the 
new siding, but the contribution of the new siding can readily be judged 
in the photographs. Siding should be chosen with both the setting of the 
house and its architecture in mind. Fortunately, in normal times there is a 
wide choice of siding materials, and since most of them have been in use 
for rather long periods of time, it is not difficult to choose an appropriate 

In most houses the exterior trim around windows and doors is flush 
with the siding; therefore, if a siding material is chosen for re-siding that 
has a different thickness from the old, alterations in the window frames and 
doorframes will usually be necessary. Some thought should be given to this 
problem before the new siding material is selected, because the extensive 
alteration of window frames and doorframes can consume much time. If 
the new siding material is thicker when it is applied to the wall, window 
frames and doorframes can be build out, as shown in Fig. 19.10. If there is 
no exterior trim and the jambs (the vertical side members) of the window 
frame project from the wall — as they do in some old houses equipped with 
the old-style sash windows without compensating weights — it may be pos- 
sible to re-side the house so that the new siding will come flush with the 
old frames, in which case no alteration in them is necessary. A casing can 
be constructed around old frames of this type, but its architectural effect 
should be considered, since the absence of trim around the windows may 
well be one of the details that makes the architecture of the old house inter- 

Board siding. Although new beveled siding can be installed over old 
clapboards or other types of lumber siding, it is sometimes advisable to 
remove the old siding to save the expense of altering window frames and 
doorframes. However, some increase in the insulating value of the wall is 
obtained when the new siding is applied over the old. If you decide not to 


New Houses from Old 
















Fig. 19.10. — Typical window-frame alterations. Left, brick veneer. Right, stucco. 

Exterior Walls 


remove the old siding, you should see that warped boards are nailed down 
and that rotted boards are replaced with boards of approximately the same 
thickness before the new siding is applied. If there is no sheathing paper in 
the wall, air infiltration through it can be reduced considerably by putting 
sheathing paper over the old siding. 

Wood shingles. Wood shingles can be installed directly over old board 
siding. If the old siding is fairly flat, as it will be if it is made of thin clap- 
boards, the shingles can be nailed directly to it; but if the old clapboards 
are thick, it is usually better to place nailing strips on them for the shingles. 
The distance between nailing strips must be adjusted so that each one will 
occupy the same relative position on the clapboards. The spacing of the 
shingles can, therefore, be determined by the spacing of the clapboards. 




(.Courtesy Architectural Record.) 

Fig. 19.11. 

When wood shingles are applied over old stucco, nailing strips spaced the 
same distance apart as the weather exposure of the shingles are nailed over 
the stucco (Fig. 19.11). If the house is not sheathed with wood sheathing, 
the nails in the strips should be spaced so that at least half of them in a 
given strip strike solid wood in the frame. When shingles are used to cover 
brick walls, furring strips are first applied vertically to the brick and secured 
by anchor bolts designed for use in masonry. The nailing strips are then 
placed horizontally across the furring strips. This method increases the 
thickness of the wall considerably, but it is the most economical way of 
giving an old brick house the appearance of a wooden house. 

Asbestos-cement shingles and siding. Shingles and siding of this kind are 
also extensively used for re-siding. Typical methods of application are shown 


New Houses from Old 






> ^>\,/^ JOINT STRIPS 





Fig. 19.12. 


(Courtesy Architectural Record.) 

Exterior Walls 285 

in Fig. 19,12. To make alignment of the new shingles easy, they are spaced 
so that the nails through the butt of the shingle rest on the top edge of the 
shingle below. 

Plywood siding. This is an excellent material to apply over old siding. 
In most cases application is easier if the plywood is applied vertically rather 
than horizontally. Typical methods are shown in Fig. 19.12. 

Stone and masonry veneer. These types of side-wall finish can be applied 
over old walls, but the operation is not inexpensive. Details of a typical 
installation are shown in Fig. 19.13. Note that an extension must be built 
to the existing foundation to provide support for the veneer. Another way 
of building out the foundation is shown in Fig. 19.14. A masonry veneer 
siding usually entails considerable reconstruction of the window and door 
openings and trim (Fig. 19.10). 

Repair of Siding 

Frequently in remodeling it is not necessary to replace the siding. If the 
old siding material is inherently sound and attractive, it can be put into 
good condition by simple repairing and refinishing. 

Board siding. Lumber siding can usually be repaired at moderate cost by 
replacing boards that are warped or decayed. The replacement boards should 
be identical in width and pattern with the original siding. If your building- 
supply dealer cannot supply stock siding that matches, plain boards can 
usually be made to order in a local planing mill. Old siding boards that 
have a bead or a handmade decoration present a special problem that calls 
for custom work, as stock patterns can seldom be found that match. 

Shingle siding. Shingled side walls can also be repaired in spots if most 
of the old shingles are still in good condition. Even though hand-split shakes 
were used for the original siding, it is usually possible to match them 
fairly well with thick shingles of present-day manufacture. In some localities 
hand-split shakes can still be obtained. Nailing the top course in a patch 
on a side wall brings up the same difficulty as nailing the top course of a 
patch in a shingled roof. The best solution on the side wall is to nail the top 
course through the butts of the course that heads it. Since these nails will be 
exposed, they must be corrosion resistant. If the shingle finish is to be 
natural or a dark stain, copper nails are recommended; but if the finished 
wall is to be painted white, zinc-clad nails should be used, as copper nails 
may cause stains on white paint. 

Masonry veneer. Cracks and weak mortar joints are the most common 
defects in masonry veneer. Cracks are usually due to the veneer having 
been poorly tied to the house wall. If there are many cracks, it will pay to 


New Houses from Old 













(,Courtcsy Architectural Record.") 

Fig. 19.13. 


iCourtesy Architectural Record.) 

Fig. 19.14. 

Exterior Walls 287 

take down the veneer and lay it up again. The wall should be taken down 
course by course to avoid breaking the stones or bricks. Old mortar must 
be cleaned off the units before they are used again. It is advisable to install 
new ties unless the old ties were made of a corrosion-resistant metal and 
were not broken when the veneer wall was taken down. The new ties should 
be spaced closely (Fig. 19.13) and firmly nailed. If there are only a few 
cracks in a masonry veneer wall, it is often sufficient to fill them with mortar. 
The technique of repairing cracks in masonry walls has been described in 
Chapter 14. The pointing up of defective mortar joints is described in the 
same chapter. 

The appearance of grimy or stained masonry veneer can often be im- 
proved by cleaning. Steam cleaning is the best method, but it can be carried 
out only by contractors who have the necessary equipment. Hot water and 
soap applied with stiff bristle brushes will remove most of the accumulated 
dirt in some cases. Green stains from copper and rust stains are hard to 
remove. If there are only a few such stains, they can be ground off with a 
carborundum block; but if the wall is badly stained, sand blasting is the 
only practical method. Sand blasting also requires special equipment. 

Repair of Solid Masonry Walls 

Usually the only repairs needed to a well-built solid masonry wall are 
the pointing up of joints. However, if the wall is cracked, particularly if 
the cracks run diagonally to the corners, something is probably wrong with 
the foundation (Chapter 14) that supports the wall. Correcting the faults of 
a foundation that supports a solid masonry wall is an engineering job, the 
details of which must be worked out for each case. After the cause of the 
cracking has been corrected, the old cracks can be filled with fresh mortar. 
The filling of cracks in masonry and the pointing up of joints are discussed 
in Chapter 14. Cleaning is frequently necessary to bring out the original 
beauty of old stone walls. The cleaning methods just described for masonry 
veneer walls are applicable to solid masonry walls. 

Old brick walls that were originally built of good mortar and hard-burned 
brick usually present no special problems, but walls built of soft brick may 
have deteriorated so much that it is not simple to restore them. However, 
an old brick house can appear to be in rather bad condition and still be 
worth repair and modernization. If possible, it is best to have such a house 
inspected by an architect or by an engineer who has had experience with 
similar houses. If the walls can be put in good structural condition — and 
they usually can be if they are thick — they can be used as a base for stucco 
or for siding material such as shingles or board siding. If the outer face 

288 New Houses from Old 

of the walls is sound but is unattractive because the original color of the 
brick was poor, the house can be given an attractive appearance by painting 
the brick (Chapter 23). A house with painted brick walls is shown in Fig. 

Repair of Stucco 

It is not always possible to repair old lime or magnesite stucco. If repair 
of stucco of either of these types is necessary, it is best to give the work to 
someone who has had experience with them. Portland-cement stucco can 
usually be repaired satisfactorily. Fine cracks (hair cracks) can be filled 
in with a cement-water paint (Chapter 23). Larger cracks and defective areas 
are repaired in essentially the same way as concrete is repaired — that is, 
loose material is cleaned out of the crack, the edges of the gap are thoroughly 
dampened, and the crack is then filled in with a 1 : 2 Portland-cement mortar. 
Patched areas can seldom be colored to match the old stucco exactly. If the 
patch is in a prominent spot, the best method is to match the color as well 
as possible, then to paint all of the stucco with a suitable paint. Some color- 
ing of the patch is necessary, because unless its color approximates the 
color of the wall, it will show through the paint. 

Before a large defective area is repaired, the cause of the failure must be 
found and corrected, otherwise the repair also will fail. Often the fault is 
a defective flashing, a leak at the eaves, a gutter that spills water on the 
face of the stucco, or some other detail that is not too difficult to correct. 
Sometimes the trouble will be more serious. If the original stucco was ap- 
plied over wood lath, the swelling and shrinking of the lath may have 
cracked the stucco. Since this process will go on as long as moisture con- 
tinues to reach the lath, it is difficult to correct. In a few cases it has been 
cured by applying a waterproofing compound to the surface of the stucco, 
and in others, by application of another coat of stucco; but the success of 
such methods is always doubtful. Sometimes it will be found that the metal 
lath over which stucco was applied has rusted away, nothing but streaks 
of rust embedded in the stucco being left of it in some areas. When this has 
occurred, the only remedy is replacement of the stucco. 

Stucco can be over-walled with stucco. Occasionally this is done by plaster- 
ing the new stucco directly on the old after washing the old surface; but 
the method is not to be recommended except in cases where the old stucco 
is exceptionally clean and sound. Metal lath or wire fabric can be secured 
over dilapidated stucco and new stucco applied to it; but complete removal 
of the old stucco is usually the better method. The cost of the removal opera- 
tion will often be less than the cost of altering flashings and doorframes 

Exterior Walls 


and window frames, which will be necessary if the thickness of the wall is 
increased. Also, stucco can be removed and the house re-sided with other 
material; or the new siding material can be applied over the old stucco. 




Fig. 19.15. — A, D, E. Sections of typical cornices at eaves. B. Section of rake along 
gable end of box cornice shown in A. C. Typical gable details. 

Cornices, Belt Courses, and Water Tables 

The details of cornice construction (Fig. 19.15) vary widely. Rather 
elaborately ornamented cornices were frequently used on old houses. In 
remodeling the exterior walls of a house, the old cornice is often removed 
and replaced with a cornice that is less obtrusive. Good and simple cornice 
trim can be seen on several of the houses illustrated in Chapter 2, 

Belt course is the name given to horizontal bands or breaks in the ex- , 
terior wall. In old two-story houses belt courses are often found at the 
second-floor level, where they served as a line of division between two dif- 
ferent kinds of sidinar material, such as board siding on the first floor and 


New Houses from Old 

shingle siding on the second. Belt courses are often removed when the ex- 
terior of a house is remodeled, especially if the same type of siding is 
applied all over it. Removal is easy in most cases because on the average 
house the belt course was made of lumber that was nailed to the sheathing 
or to the frame. Occasionally an old house is found in which the belt course 
is based on girts at the second-floor level that project from the wall. Removal 
of this type of belt course is not advisable. Instead, a wall treatment should 
be adopted into which the belt course can be fitted. 



FiG. 19.16. — Typical water tables. 

The water table is found at the base of the wall. Typical structural details 
for two types of wall are shown in Fig. 19.16. The purpose of the water 
table is to shed outward rain that runs down the wall. Water tables are 
often absent on houses sided with board siding. 



Windows and Doors 


Window problems in remodeling include both the installation of new 
windows and the modernization of old ones. Although the latter problem 
is the more common, modern windows will be discussed first because a 
knowledge of window types and details is essential in order to plan the 
remodeling of existing windows. 

Types of windows. The double-hung window is the familiar kind with two 
sashes that slide up and down in the frame. Double-hung windows have a 
number of advantages that account for their popularity. They are compara- 
tively inexpensive. They seldom leak rain and can be made fairly airtight. 
The necessary hardware is simple and inexpensive. Screens, storm windows, 
and weather stripping are easily added. The outside of the window can be 
washed from the inside, although not with the same convenience as a case- 
ment window. The opening of the window can be adjusted as desired, but 
the maximum is half of the window area. 

The casement window, the kind in which the sashes swing horizontally as 
doors swing, is easy to wash from the inside, and its construction permits 
the whole area of the window to be used for ventilation. However, the area 
of the window opening is not easily adjusted to a small opening when only 
a little ventilation is desired. Both wood- and metal-casement windows must 
be very well made; otherwise the frames will warp and prevent tight closing 
of the window. As a general rule, screens, storm windows, and hardware are 
more expensive for casement windows than for double-hung windows. If the 
sashes are arranged to swing out, screens and storm windows must be placed 
on the inside; if they swing in, it is difficult to prevent leakage during driv- 
ing rains. 

Fixed windows are used in houses chiefly as large picture windows, but 
occasionally a small window of this kind is installed where light is desir- 
able but where ventilation is not needed, as on a stair landing. A fixed 
window that is properly set into the frame will not leak either water or air. 



New Houses from Old 

















Fig. 20.1. 

Windows and Doors 

n^i -*— BACK BAND 












Fig. 20.2. — Weight system in double-hung windo-w. See Fig. 20.1 for details of 
weight boxes. 

294 New Houses from Old 

However, some other means of ventilation must be provided in the room, 
because a fixed window cannot be opened. The outsides of fixed windows 
can be washed only from outside the house. 

Glass blocks, which are, strictly speaking, fixed windows, are used where 
light is needed but where vision to the outside is not desired. Glass blocks 
are set in the wall and are jointed together either with Portland-cement 
mortar or a rubber-base adhesive. A lintel must be placed over the opening 
so that the weight of the wall does not bear on the blocks, and trim details 
are worked out to suit the opening and the architecture of the house. 

Window terms and parts. The names of window parts are indicated on 
Fig. 20.1 and on other illustrations in this chapter. Construction details of 
double-hung windows in frame walls are shown in Fig. 20.1, in masonry 
veneer walls in Fig. 19.10, and in solid masonry walls in Fig. 20.3. Of the 
three types of double-hung frames shown in Fig. 20.1, the box frame is the 
sturdiest and offers the greatest resistance to air leakage, but any of the 
three is likely to be encountered in remodeling. The usual arrangement of 
the weights in double-hung windows is shown in Fig. 20.2, and one arrange- 
ment of spring balances is shown in Fig. 20.7. The details of typical steel- 
casement windows are shown in Fig. 20.3. Wood-casement windows are 
shown in Fig. 20.4. Fig. 20.5 illustrates two methods of installing fixed 

Glass and Glazing 

House windows are most commonly glazed with flat drawn glass, which 
is manufactured in various thicknesses, called "strengths" in the trade. 
Single-strength glass is about %o in. in thickness and it is suitable only 
for panes (lights) less than 24 in. wide. Wider panes, such as those in 
average double-hung windows without muntins, require double-strength 
glass, which is about % in. thick. Still heavier glass is designated by the 
ounce; for example, 34-oz. glass, each sheet of which is approximately % 
in. thick. 

All flat drawn glass has a somewhat uneven surface and therefore may 
produce distorted views. Glass is graded from the standpoint of its freedom 
from waves and bubbles as follows: AA, A, B. B grade is commonly used 
in houses. Picture windows and other windows through which a clear, un- 
distorted view is wanted should be glazed with plate glass. Plate glass can 
be purchased in specified thicknesses. The ^g-in. thickness is commonly 
used for house windows, but an even greater thickness may be required for 
extra-large windows. 

The setting of glass in sashes is called glazing. Glass can be purchased 

Windows and Doors 









STEEL ___^ 
LINTEL— ^^^ 








mm^ ^ 






Fig. 20.3. — Window-framing details. A. Steel casement sash in frame and veneer 
walls. B. Steel casement sash in solid masonry wall. C. Wood sash in masonry wall. 


New Houses from Old 
















Fig. 20.4. 

from dealers in panes of the size that is needed or in large sheets that are 
cut on the job. Glass is cut by first scoring it with a glass-cutting tool. The 
sheet is placed over the edge of a table with the score upward and in line 
with the edge of the table. The piece that is to be cut off is then pressed 

Windows and Doors 


downward, and the glass will break cleanly along the mark. Panes should be 
cut slightly smaller than the opening in the sash. 

A suitable putty for wood sashes consists of precipitated whiting and white 
lead ground in linseed oil. The rabbets in wooden sashes should be painted 
with linseed oil. If this step is omitted, the wood may absorb enough of the 
oil in the putty to cause premature failure of the putty. After painting with 
the oil, the pane is "back-puttied" by placing a thin ribbon of putty on the 
edge of the glass or on the rabbet. The pane of glass is then pressed firmly 
into the putty. Flat, triangular zinc points (glaziers' points) are placed along 
its edge and are forced partly into the wood. Putty is then placed over the 
points and glass and is shaped as shown in Fig. 20.6. Putty that was squeezed 
through to the opposite face of the window should be cleaned off before it 
hardens. Only putty manufactured for use on steel sashes should be used in 
glazing metal windows. Glaziers' points are not used to hold the glass; 
otherwise the procedure is the same as for wood sash. 










Fig. 20.5. — A. Fixed window in wood sash. B. Fixed window with glass set directly 
in window frame. 


New Houses from Old 

Double Glazing and Storm Windows 

In comparison to wood and other materials commonly used in exterior 
walls, glass is a good conductor of heat. The inside face of a single-glazed 
window is always colder in cold weather than adjacent wall areas. The 
condensation of water vapor on the inside of the window in cold weather 
causes mist or frost on the window and sometimes damages woodwork and 
wall finish. 

A new type of window glass has been developed to get around these diffi- 
culties. To produce this new material in the form in which it is used in a 
house, two panes of plate glass are joined at their edges with a flexible, air- 




Fig. 20.6. — Glazing details in wood sash. 

tight seal. The panes are spaced ^4 or % in. apart, and the air space between 
them is filled with dry, dust-free air. This glass-air sandwich has a con- 
ductivity for heat that is about half the conductivity for single glass. Glass 
of this kind cannot be cut to size on the job but must be ordered in the exact 
dimensions that are needed. It is set in putty as single glass is set, but 
rabbets % or 1 in. deep are required. It cannot be set in standard wood 
sash, but wood sash that is designed for this kind of glass is available. It can 
be set in most metal-casement windows that are found in houses, and it can 
also be set as a fixed window with or without sashes. 

Good storm windows are the least expensive way of obtaining the ad- 
vantages of double glazing in existing houses. Wooden storm windows should 
be well made of seasoned lumber, and they should be well fitted. Storm 
windows cannot be made perfectly airtight; but in a well-built house this 

Windows and Doors 299 

is not a disadvantage because some air infiltration is necessary for ventila- 
tion and to provide draft for fireplaces. 

Several makes of combination storm windows and screens are available. 
These consist of a frame of one kind or another and detachable sashes con- 
taining screening or glass. The frame is fitted to the window, and remains 
in place the year round. To make the change from storm windows to screens, 
or vice versa, at the end of the seasons, it is only necessary to change the 
sashes. These combinations are more convenient than separate storm win- 
dows and screens, but they are also more expensive. On double-hung windows 
and inswinging casement windows, storm windows are installed on the out- 
side (Fig. 20.9) of the regular window. Special types of storm windows, 
which can be installed on the inside, are necessary for outswinging casement 

Weather Stripping 

The purpose of weather stripping is to reduce the leakage of air around 
the edges of window sashes and doors. Weather stripping is an excellent 
thing to add to poorly fitted windows; but it is doubtful whether average 
windows that will be equipped with well-fitted storm windows need weather 
stripping except in very severe climates, since storm windows also reduce 
air leakage. If winters are cold and the house is in a windy location, it 
may be advisable to add weather stripping, as well as storm windows, to 
windows located on the side of the prevailing wind. Weather stripping of 
doors is worth its cost in most houses because the air leakage around doors 
is considerably greater than it is around well-built windows. 

There are a number of systems of weather stripping, but most of them 
employ thin strips of springy metal, such as copper or zinc. The strips are 
placed so that they bear against the edges of window sashes and doors or in 
grooves cut into them. Weather stripping can be applied to practically every 
type of window or door that is found in houses. Application methods on 
wooden windows are simple. The only difficult part is the cutting of grooves 
in the edges of door and window sashes for weather-stripping systems that 
require grooves. These grooves can be cut most easily with special tools 
which have been developed for the purpose and which are used by con- 
tractors who install weather stripping. The grooves can also be cut with 
a power-driven portable router and by other methods known to any car- 
penter. The installation ,of weather stripping on metal windows is some- 
what more difficult because most systems require the drilling and tapping 
of holes in the metal. Both wood and metal windows are now available 
with integral weather stripping. 

300 New Houses from Old 


The most important detail in connection with screens is the selection of 
the screen cloth. The cheapest cloth is made of ungalvanized steel wire that 
is coated with black enamel to give it some resistance to rusting. This kind 
of cloth should be purchased only for temporary use, as it soon rusts through 
in spite of the enamel. Screen cloth made of galvanized steel wire is much 
more durable; but it, too, eventually fails by rusting. 

Screen cloth made of copper wire is not subject to rusting but is easily 
stretched and soon becomes disfigured with dents. Cloth made of bronze 
wire (an alloy of copper and zinc) is equally resistant to corrosion and has 
considerable resistance to denting. Steel, copper, and bronze screen cloth 
must all be enameled or varnished (Chapter 23) to avoid the staining of 
white paint located below the screens. Aluminum screen cloth is corrosion 
resistant, is strongly resistant to denting, and does not stain white paint. 
Screen cloth made of plastic materials is a new development. It does not 
rust or stain paint; and it does not dent under ordinary pressures. 

Screen cloth is manufactured in various number "meshes"; 14-mesh cloth 
has 14 holes per linear in., 16-mesh has 16 holes, etc. Cloth with 18 meshes 
should be used where insects are unusually abundant, as near a swamp or 
woods; 16 mesh is adequate for average locations; 14 mesh should be pur- 
chased only when strict economy is necessary. The frames of screens should 
be constructed so that they will not warp, because unless the screen makes 
a tight fit with the window, insects will find their way around the edge of 
the screen. 

Modernization of Existing Windows 

Weightless windows. An old type of window that is frequently encountered 
in remodeling is the sliding-sash window without counterweights. This type 
resembles the double-hung window; but the difference is discovered as soon 
as an attempt is made to open the window, because the entire weight of 
the sash must be lifted. Another earmark is the small pull stop that is in- 
serted in the edge of the sash and designed to hold the sash when it is open. 

Windows of this type were installed in simple plank frames similar in 
construction to casement window frames (Fig. 20.4). Since there is no room 
for weight boxes, a double-hung window cannot be put in the same opening 
without reconstructing the opening. However, many devices have been de- 
veloped which can be used in place of weights and which can be installed 
without expensive changes in the window. One scheme employs a flat spiral 

Windows and Doors 


spring that is enclosed in a neat metal box. The box can be fastened either 
to the head of the window or to the jamb. The connection between the sash 
and the spring is made by a flexible metal strap. Other schemes use long 
coiled springs that are contained in grooves in the edges of the sashes (Fig. 
20.7). Most of these mechanisms (they are called spring balances in the 
trade) sprang from the need for converting the old-style weightless win- 
dows, hence their installation on such windows is usually simple. However, 
if you select a make that requires the cutting of deep grooves in the window 




Fig. 20.7. — Typical position of spring balances in wood sash. 

sashes, it will save time to have the grooves cut in a woodworking shop 
rather than to attempt the operation with home tools. Spring balances have 
proved so successful that they are used on many windows now installed in 
new houses. 

Another method of converting weightless windows is to use a type of 
window in which the sashes slide in slotted guides. There are several short 
springs between the guides on one side of the window and the window 
frame. The springs hold the guides against the sash and create just enough 
friction to hold it in any desired position. New frames and sashes are re- 
quired to make this conversion, but the frames can usually be inserted in 
the original openings. 

Old sash windows are sometimes converted to casement windows, and, 
vice versa, wood-casement windows that have proved too drafty are some- 
times converted to double-hung windows. Typical details of adapting the 
frames for such conversions are shown in Fig. 20.8. It is good practice to 


New Houses from Old 

coat the backs of the new strips with white lead paste or a thick lead and oil 
paint before nailing them in place. 

Installation of screens and storm sashes on old windows. Modern win- 
dows are now made in standard dimensions and modern screens and storm 
sashes are made to fit them without cutting and trimming, but factory-made 
storm sashes and screens must usually be fitted on the job to windows in 


Fig. 20.8. — A. Alteration of double-hung window frame to receive casement sash. 
B. Alteration of casement frame to receive double-hung sash. New wood is indi- 
cated by heavier shading. 

old houses. They should be ordered in a slightly larger dimension than 
the window opening, then cut down to fit ( Fig. 20.9) . If the edge of the blind 
stop is not even, a simple way of making it so is to build it out with thin, 
straight strips of wood. A felt strip tacked along the edges of the screen or 
sash frame is another way of achieving a snug fit at this point. 

Calking of windoivs. In many old houses — and also in some that are not 
very old — there is considerable air leakage through the joints between the 
walls and the window frames. Installation of weather stripping or storm 
windows has, of course, no effect on leakage around the frame. Calking of 
the frames is necessary to correct it. The outside casing should be removed 

Windows and Doors 


from wood windows. Wide cracks should be partly filled with oakum, then 
finished with a mastic calking compound. The mastic alone is adequate for 
narrow cracks. The oakum is applied by driving it in with a hammer and 
screw driver. The mastic can be applied with a putty knife or with a gun 







Fig. 20.9. — Fitting of storm window or screen. A. To standard casing. B. To 
shallow casing. 

that is specially made for the purpose. In most cases, windows set in masonry 
walls will have been calked and the calking will be visible. If it is cracked 
or shrunken, it should be dug out and the joint filled with fresh mastic. 

Doors ^ 

Types of doors. The panel door (Fig. 20.10) is the type most frequently 
found in houses that are to be remodeled. The flush type of door ( Figs. 5.4 
and 20.11) is also an old type, but it was not much used in houses until 
recent years. Batten doors (Fig. 20.12) are usually found only in the base- 
ment and in other places where the appearance of the door is not impor- 
tant; but in some old houses rather attractive batten doors were used at the 
main entrances. The louvered door (Fig. 20.13) is a special type that is 
useful in climates where the summers are extremely warm. It is also useful 
on closets used for the storage of clothing in humid climates. Folding doors 
(Fig. 5.2) are useful in the interior of the house where there is not room 
for the swing of a regular door. The old-style sliding door was often bulky 
and unsatisfactory, but modern sliding doors are considerably lighter in 
weight and can be installed where they are needed with complete assurance 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 20.10. — An old-fashioned bedroom before remodeling. 


Fig. 20.11. — After remodeling. 

(Figs. 20.10 and 20.11 Hcdrich-Blcssing Studio. Courtesy United States Gypsum Company.) 


ows an 

d D 



that they will operate satisfactorily. Many building codes require the use 
of a fire-resistant door between the garage and the rest of the house when 
the garage is an integral part of the house, as when it is built in the base- 
ment. Fire-resistant doors are usually batten doors with a sheet-metal cover- 

As a general rule, in remodeling it is advisable to retain as many of the 
old doors as possible because of the cost of purchasing and installing new 

1 1 1 1 









'v J 

'■^ > 

1 1 1 1 


















Fig. 20.12. — Batten doors. 

doors. However, in some middle-aged houses, the doors are so unattractive 
that new doors are more than worth their cost. When only some of the 
doors in a house are replaced, it is generally best to purchase replacement 
doors that harmonize in appearance with the other doors in the house. Doors 
can be made to order in designs that are appropriate to the house, but 
custom-made doors are considerably more expensive than stock doors. 

Door details. The parts of a typical door installation are shown in 
Fig. 20.14. Exterior doors require special sill construction to keep rain 
from entering the house. Two methods of constructing exterior door sills 
are shown in the same figure. 


New Houses from Old 

To install a door in remodeling, the rough opening is cut in the wall 
as shown in Fig. 17.17. A header and extra studs are inserted if needed. 
The doorframe is then placed in the opening and is made plumb by driving 
wedge-shaped pieces of wood from both directions between the doorframe 
and the framing of the opening. The doorframe is then nailed to the framing 
of the opening by driving nails through the wedges. 

(Courtesy Foiult-i osa I'inc Woodwork.) 
Fig. 20.13. — Louvered doors. 

To hang the door, it is first sawed and planed along its edges to fit the 
opening. It should fit tightly at the edge where the hinges are to be placed, 
but there should be a gap of about %g in. at the top and on the lock side 
between the door and the frame. If there is to be a threshold strip at the 
bottom of the door, the door should clear this also by %6 in. If the thresh- 
old strip is to be omitted, the bottom of the door should be about % in. 


Windows and Doors 












^ PI AQ- 






Fig. 20.14.— Door details. 

above the finish flooring. Doors now manufactured under the modular 
standards of the National Door Manufacturers' Association will fit without 
trimming the frames designed for them. 

After trimming, the door is placed in the frame and held in position by 
means of thin wedges of softwood. The positions of the butts (hinges) 
are marked on both the door and the frame. The door is then removed 
and gains are cut for the butts in both the frame and the door. The separate 
pieces of the butts are screwed in place on the frame and on the door. 
The door can then be hung by placing it in position and joining the butts 
with the pins. If the door is properly hung in the frame and swings free, 
the doorstops are then nailed in place. Next, the lock, or knob, or both, 
as the case may be, is installed on the door by cutting a mortise or by 

308 New Houses from Old 

boring holes, whichever is required. The position of the latch is then 
marked carefully on the doorframe, and finally the lock strike is installed 
on the frame. Experienced carpenters may do these operations in a different 
order, but an inexperienced workman will usually avoid trouble by fol- 
lowing the sequence that has been outlined. Gains are, of course, not cut 
for hinges that are installed flush on the door or frame, but the necessary 
operations except for this detail are the same. 

Modernizing Old Doors 

Old doors that are no longer true can usually be trued up. The frame 
should first be made square by placing proper supports under the girders 
in the house or by making other changes that may be necessary. If the door 
is out of square only at the top and bottom, it can be sawed or planed 
along these edges. Strips of straight lumber are then secured to th« bottom 
and top of the door with glue and casing nails. It is best to make the strips 
a little thicker than is required to make the door fit the frame. The nails 
are then countersunk, and after the glue has dried, the strips are planed 
down to the required dimensions. If the lock side of the door has also been 
trimmed so that it also is not straight, the same method of repair can be 
used. The only difference is that latches and locks that are in the way are 
first removed, and new holes or mortises must be cut in the edge strip for 
the latches after the strip has been planed down. 

Unattractive old panel doors can be converted to flush-type doors by 
covering their faces with plywood. The old door is removed from its hanging 
and laid flat. Paint and varnish are removed from the surfaces with which 
the plywood will come in contact. If the door is to be used in a location 
where it will receive considerable wear, it is best to cut back the top, bot- 
tom, and lock edges about % in. A good grade of adhesive is then spread 
on the door and also on the plywood. The surfaces are then pressed firmly 
together and held in place with sandbags until the adhesive has cured. 
The edges of the door are then built out again with strips of a hard lumber, 
such as yellow pine. The strips should be wide enough to cover both the 
edge of the door and the edges of the plywood. Before the door is replaced 
in the frame, it will be necessary to cut back or move the stops to accom- 
modate the added thickness. A flush door made in this way is seldom as 
strong as a factory-built flush door; but if careful attention is paid to 
workmanship, the door should give satisfactory service. Battens, rather than 
panels, can be applied when it is necessary only to strengthen the door. 

Changing the side from which a door swings is not a complicated oper- 
ation unless the door has a lock that is not reversible. Even in such a case, 

Windows and Doors 


the swing of a door can be changed by purchasing a new lock of the proper 
"hand." The door is removed from its hangings and the hinges are un- 
screwed. The old mortises are filled in with lumber of the appropriate thick- 
ness installed with glue and casing nails. The procedure for rehanging the 
door is then the same as for hanging a new door. If you wish to change a 
door so that it swings outward from a room instead of inward, or vice 
versa, the hinges are removed from the doorframe but need not be removed 
from the door. This kind of change, however, requires the moving of the 
doorstops and, of course, the moving of the frame portions of the butts and 
the strike plate for the latch. 


Window hardware. Typical window hardware is shown in Fig. 20.15. The 
only hardware actually required on double-hung windows with conventional 
types of weights is the sash fastener and the sash pulleys; but a metal pull 
is sometimes used at the bottom of the lower sash. Sash pulleys (Fig. 20.2) 






{Courtesy Norwalk Lock Company, Division of Segal Lock & Hardware Company, Inc.) 

Fig. 20.15. — A, B. Sash pulls. C. Double-hung sash fastener. D. Casement-window 
sash fasteners. E. Casement sash adjuster. 


New Houses from Old 

should be bronze faced to avoid trouble from rusting. Sash pulleys are not re- 
quired if the window has spring balances. Many varieties of hardware in addi- 
tion to the simple types shown are used on casement windows, but the hardware 
that is necessary for any particular make of window is usually described 
in the catalogue of the window manufacturer. 













O O 















Fig. 20.16. — A. Strap hinge. B. H-L hinge. C. Ornamental strap hinge. D. Butt 
hinge. E. Details of installation of butt hinge on door so as to provide clearance 
when the door is fully open. 

Door hardivare. Typical hinges and butts for house doors are shown in 
Fig. 20.16. The double-acting hinge is used on some swinging doors. Many 
swinging doors are constructed with a spring-actuated floor hinge (not 
illustrated), which is built into the bottom of the door and pivots in a plate 
installed on the floor. The H-L hinges are features of very old houses. 
Genuine handmade hinges of this type are valuable antiques, but modern 
replicas are available from several manufacturers. Typical modern door- 
knobs and handles are shown in Fig. 20.19. 

Windows and Doors 


Lochs and latches. There are two general types of keylocks (Fig. 20.17). 
The bit key lock is satisfactory for interior doors, but the ease with which 
it can be picked makes it inadequate for exterior doors. Nevertheless, it is 
often found on exterior doors in old houses and is sometimes retained in 
cases where it has interest as an antique. Locks of both types are sometimes 


{Courtesy Norwalk Lock Company, Dh'ision 
of Segal Lock & Hardware Company, Inc.) 

Fig. 20.17. — A. Bit key mortise lock. B. Cylinder mortise lock. C. Jimmy-proof 
rim-cylinder lock. 

"jimmied" by forcing a thin knife or similar tool between the doorstop and 
the door casing and pushing back the latch. The "jimmy-proof" lock gets 
around this hazard by eliminating the latch and using in its place short 
bolts that drop into holes in the striker plate. Typical lock, handle, and 
knob combinations for exterior doors are illustrated in Fig. 20.18. 


New Houses from Old 

The cutting of mortises in a door for a rectangular lock box is a difficult 
operation unless it is done with a special machine. When such a machine 
is not available, the mortise is cut by first drilling several holes with an 




(Courtesy Norwalk Lock Company, Division 
of Segal Lock & Hardware Company, Inc.) 

Fig. 20.18. — Knob and lock combinations. A. Key outside only. B. Key outside, 
turn knob inside. C. Key on both sides. D, E. Rim-mounted locks with keys outside 
and turn knobs inside. 

auger bit, then squaring the opening with a chisel. To get around the diffi- 
culty, some manufacturers now offer "tubular" locks (Fig. 20.19), which 
can be installed by boring round holes with a brace and bit. 

Various combinations of knobs, latches, and escutcheons are used. A few 

Windows and Doors 


typical ones are shown in Fig. 20.20. Knobs and latches are sufficient on 
closet doors and other interior doors where locks are not needed. On bath- 

(Loiiitcsy iiclilagc Lutk tomt'aiiy.) 
Fig. 20.19. — Tubular lock and knob assembly. 

room doors it is advisable to use locks that can be operated from the out 
side with special keys in emergencies. 


A B 

{Courtesy Norwalk Lock Company, Division of Segal Lock & Hardware Company, Inc.) 

Fig. 20.20. — A. Handle and thumb latch with separate key plate. The handle is 
placed on the outside of an exterior door as shown in B. C. Knob with escutcheon 
containing a keyhole. D. Knob with separate key plate. The circular plate around 
the knob is called a rose. 


New Houses from Old 

The designations "RH," "LH," "RHRB," and "LHRB" found in catalogue 
descriptions mean, respectively, "right hand," "left hand," "right hand 
reverse bevel," and "left hand reverse bevel" (Fig. 20.21). The bevel refers 
to the bevel on the latch and, in some cases, on the lock case. Some locks 
are reversible and are so designated in catalogues. 









{Courtesy Norwalk Lock Company, Dh'ision 
of Segal Lock &• Hardware Company, Inc.) 

Fig. 20.21.— The "hand" of doors and locks. 

Windows and Doors 315 

Cabinet hardware. Cabinet hardware is used mainly on kitchen cabinets 
and similar storage cabinets installed in the bathroom and elsewhere in 
the house. There are many makes and types. Well-stocked hardware stores 
usually display the products of several manufacturers, and catalogues that 
illustrate and describe the products of many manufacturers are included in 
Sweet's Architectural Catalogs. Good-quality hardware should be purchased 
for storage cabinets that will receive frequent use. Aside from this con- 
sideration, the main points to be borne in mind in selecting cabinet hard- 
ware are convenience of operation, attractive appearance, and durable finish. 

Hardware finishes. Low-cost hinges and butts are often finished with cad- 
mium, tin, or zinc. A variety of finishes is used on more important hard- 
ware. Typical ones are brass, bronze, nickel, and chromium — all of these 
in both dull and polished finishes, black finishes, and various antique 
finishes. Some hardware is also painted. The nickel, brass, and bronze 
finishes require occasional polishing to remove tarnish; chromium finishes 
remain bright without polishing; and the black and antique finishes require 
no polishing. A finish that suits the room should be selected. Chromium 
finishes are commonly used on kitchen cabinet hardware because of their 
durability and also because they are appropriate to the modern kitchen. 
Some suggestions on the refinishing of old hardware are given in Chap- 
ter 23 under Painting of Metal. 



Interior Walls and Trim 

Interior walls (and ceilings) can be remodeled with a variety of ma- 
terials, which include plaster, wallboards of various types, and selected 
lumber. In many cases old plaster can be successfully repaired. 

Dry-wall Construction 

Although most new houses are finished on the interior with plaster, and 
this is the most common wall finish found in houses that are remodeled, 
plaster is not a convenient material to apply in many cases of remodeling. 
Any plastering operation more extensive than patching introduces into the 
house a large quantity of water that may damage interior trim and finish 
flooring, a hazard that is avoided in new construction by not installing these 
parts of the house until the plaster is dry. There is the further disadvantage 
that good plastering is highly skilled work. Persons who are inexperienced 
in the craft can seldom do it well, and skilled plasterers are hard to find 
in some communities. 

Dry-wall construction avoids the introduction into the house of the large 
amount of water that must be incorporated in fresh plaster, thus avoiding 
the possible damage to the woodwork in the house and making it possible 
to live comfortably in the house while part of it is being remodeled. In 
this type of construction, the walls are finished with such materials as fiber- 
board (also called insulation board), gypsum board (also called plaster- 
board), plywood panels, or natural woods in the form of specially manu- 
factured lumber. Materials of the first three types are sometimes referred 
to as wallboard. 

Wallboards. When the manufactured wallboards were first introduced, 
not much thought was given to handling them from an aesthetic viewpoint. 
In most cases economy was the chief motive for using them. Usually the 
panels were simply nailed to the wall and the joints between them were 
covered with strips of wood. Houses finished in this way gained a reputa- 
tion for cheapness and ugliness that should not be extended to the use of 


Interior Walls and Trim 


these materials today. Quite satisfactory methods have now been developed 
for producing with these materials walls that have plane, unbroken surfaces 
similar to plastered walls. Furthermore, the problem of joints in walls in 
which the existence of panels is frankly recognized has been studied, and 
excellent ways have been devised for making walls in which the joints are 
visible but not ugly. 


16- MESH 



Fig. 21.1. — Making of plane joints between wallboard panels. A. With special fiber 
tape. B. With wire cloth. Panels may be butted as in A or spaced about % in. 
apart as in B. Furring strip is used when surface of studs is very uneven. After 
filling compound has thoroughly dried, joint is smoothed with sandpaper. 

Fiberboard and gypsum board for interior wall finish are made of ap- 
proximately the same range of materials as sheathing board (Chapter 19), 
but interior wallboards are usually more dense, and if they are covered 
with paper, it is of a different type. Sometimes the paper is processed 
for use as the wall finish without further painting, or it can be designed 
to be painted or covered with wallpaper. Both fiberboard and gypsum 
board are available in panels that have recessed edges that can be filled to 
disguise the joints and to produce a plane wall. Two typical methods for 
making these plane joints are diagramed in Fig. 21.1. 

Plywood wallboard is made similarly to other types of plywood except 
that it is usually made with water-resistant rather than waterproof glue. 
Also, plywood panels intended for interior wall finish are available with 
faces made of a large variety of woods, including both common woods and 
fine and rare ones. Rooms finished with plywood faced with oak are shown 
in Figs. 11.10 and 21.3. However, it is not necessary to use the more ex- 
pensive types of plywood to obtain an attractive effect. Plywood faced with 
fir, for example, can be used to produce an attractive room by one of 
several methods. 

Application of wallboard. Wallboards of all the types mentioned are 
manufactured in various thicknesses, widths, and lengths that adapt them 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 21.2. — If the panels are not to be disguised, the joints may be made decorative. 
The joints shown are particularly suited to plywood but may be used with certain 
other types of panels. 

to remodeling. For example, plywood suitable for interior walls can be 
had in Y^-, %-, and ^2-'^^- thicknesses, in a width of 48 in., and in lengths 
of 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10 ft. Although any of the wallboards can be easily 
cut with either handsaws or power saws, a length should be selected that 
can be applied with a minimum of cutting. 

If the studs or other members of the house frame are spaced 12 or 
16 in. on center, plywood ^4 i"- thick, gypsum board % in. thick, or 
fiberboard % in. thick can be used. If the spacing is 20 in. on center, 
the recommended thicknesses, respectively, are ^4 in., /2 ^^-i ^^^ /4 iii-? 
and for 24-in. -on-center spacing, % in., ^4 in., and % in. In houses with 
old braced frames where there are no studs in the walls, studs must be 
inserted at the right intervals. Some blocking must usually be inserted 
between studs to support the ends of panels. In most cases wallboards are 
nailed directly to the studs; but in houses where the studs and other framing 
members present an uneven surface, it is necessary to build them out to 
a plane surface with thin boards or plywood strips before applying the 

Manufacturers' directions should be followed for nailing; but if the 
wallboard is to be applied over an old wall covering, such as plaster, the 
nails should always be long enough so that they will extend through the 
plaster and enter into the solid members of the frame. When wallboards 

Interior Walls and Trim 


(Cuitrtay L'nifrd Sfafcs Ply-^'ood Cori>iirat-'i>n.) 

Fig. 21.3. — Smooth panels of plywood and squares made by sawing stock panels 
were both used to finish the walls in this room. 

are applied to a ceiling, they are attached to the joists either directly or 
through the old plaster. Flexible, or "resilient," fastening methods are used 
with certain types of wallboard, particularly fiberboards that expand and 
contract under varying conditions of humidity. Adhesives can be used to 
attach some types (Fig. 21.5). At least one adhesive method has been 
developed for use with plywood that produces a wall entirely free of nails. 
However, plywood panels are usually fastened with finish or casing nails 
driven about 6 in. apart along the edges of the panels. 

Wall Finish with Natural Lumber (Paneling) 

Walls can also be finished (paneled) with specially selected and pre- 
pared lumber. Probably the most familiar wall finish of this type is knotty- 
pine paneling (Fig. 21.6). Knotty pine has enjoyed a considerable vogue, 
but many other woods are equally or even more suitable. The chief require- 
ments are sufficient hardness to resist impact and abrasion, a pleasing color, 
and an interesting grain. Red oak, white oak, hard maple, red gum, black 
gum, beech, white ash, cypress, sycamore, and many other American woods 


New Houses from Old 

— in addition to the rare and exotic woods used in expensive paneling — 
possess these qualities. As a general rule, this kind of wall finish costs more 
than the types described above. Furthermore, the application of complicated 
paneling is a job for an expert carpenter or even a cabinetmaker. How- 
ever, simple paneling is well within the skill of average carpenters or 
good amateur carpenters, especially if stock paneling is used. 








4 ' 

TTTTi^ ^zzzn. 






Fig. 21.4. — Woodwork details for plywood and other interior wall panels. 

Elaborate paneling requires special methods of application, but the fol- 
lowing directions cover the essentials of applying simple, horizontal, or 
vertical paneling. Adequate bearings to which the paneling boards can be 
nailed must be provided. If the boards are to be applied horizontally to 
the wall, they can be nailed directly to the frame; but if they are to be 
applied vertically, wood nailing strips, usually made of 1-in. by 2-in. 
lumber and spaced about 2 ft. apart, are first nailed horizontally to the 
wall. If the old wall covering is removed, the strips can be nailed directly 
to the studs. If it is not removed, they should be nailed through the existing 

Interior Walls and Trim 


wall covering, in which case the nails must be long enough to pass through 
the old wall covering and to penetrate the framing members 1 in. or more. 
Finish or casing nails are used to apply the paneling to the nailing strips. 
Usually the nail heads are set after they are driven, and the holes are 
filled with a plastic filler, but the nails are left exposed in some walls. 

(Courtesy Armstrong Cork Company.) 

Fig, 21.5. — Attaching fiberboard "tiles" with adhesive. This method produces a 
wall finish without nail holes. 

Exterior walls under paneling made of lumber should be tight, other- 
wise the many joints between the boards will permit much air infiltration. 
If the old wall is plastered, holes and wide cracks in it can be repaired 
and the nailing strips for the new wall finish then applied over it. This 
results in a fairly tight wall. If the old plaster and lath are removed, rigid 
insulation board can be applied to the studs and the nailing strips placed 
on it, or the spaces between the studs can be insulated with a fill insulation. 


New Houses from Old 

Since the individual boards in a wall of this kind change considerably 
in dimension under varying conditions of humidity, shiplapped or tongued- 
and-grooved joints are used. If the boards are simply butted along their 
edges, disfiguring cracks will eventually develop in the wall. 

(Courtesy Western Pine Association.') 

Fig. 21.6. — Knotty-pine paneling and wallpaper have been combined in this at- 
tractive room. 

Linoleum Wall Covering 

Linoleum is most commonly used as a wall covering in bathrooms and 
kitchens, but its use in other rooms of the house is increasing. 

Linoleum must be applied over a solid, smooth backing, because irregu- 
larities will show through it. Smooth plaster or wallboard, such as gypsum 
board applied with filled joints made plane with the wall, is a satisfactory 
backing. Old plaster is prepared to receive linoleum by removing from it 
any such materials as wallpaper, oilcloth, and water paints. Oil paints can 
be left on, but they must be cut through by sanding with coarse sandpaper. 
Cracks and holes in the plaster are filled with patching plaster and sanded 
smooth after the plaster hardens. 

It is quite necessary to have both the linoleum and the wall to which 
it is to be applied at a temperature of at least 70° F. Linoleum is delivered 
in rolls. Before it is unrolled, it should be kept at a temperature of 70° F. 

Interior Walls and Trim 323 

for at least forty-eight hours. The walls should be held at the same tempera- 
ture for at least twenty-four hours. After the linoleum is placed on the 
wall, the same temperature must be maintained until the cement has set, 
usually twelve hours. 

Various accessories are available for finishing corners, bases, and cornices 
on linoleum walls. Information about these accessories and detailed direc- 
tions for the application of linoleum are readily available from linoleum 
manufacturers or dealers. 

Glass and Tile on Walls 

Colored plate glass is used to some extent for surfacing bathroom and 
kitchen walls. It is an excellent material, but it is difficult to use in remodel- 
ing because openings in the glass sheets for the accommodation of faucets, 
valves, etc., must be cut at the factory from working drawings furnished 
by the architect or contractor. However, sheets of stock sizes without open- 
ings are available for installation at such points as behind the range in 
the kitchen. 

Glazed ceramic tile is almost a standard finish for bathroom walls, and 
it is used also on some kitchen walls. Methods of installation are discussed 
in Chapter 22. 

Many substitutes for ceramic tile on walls have been developed. These 
include metal, such as steel or aluminum, with various types of finishes 
including fused-on porcelain, fiberboards and plasterboards that are faced 
with coatings that somewhat resemble the surface of tile, and plastic tile. 
These materials are available in dimensions similar to the dimensions of 
wall tile and also as larger sheets that are scored to resemble the conven- 
tional dimensions of tile. Many of them can be readily applied over old 
walls, often without removal of the old plaster or other wall covering. For 
example, one metal tile system uses a grooved base that is nailed through 
the old wall covering to the studs. The individual metal tiles are then set 
in the grooves in the base with cement. The exact methods of application 
vary with each type and make of material, but specific directions are always 
supplied by the manufacturer or dealer. 

Bathroom and Kitchen Walls 

The walls in these areas of the house must be constructed to resist damp- 
ness, and they must have surfaces that are easy to keep clean. Ceramic tile 
(Chapter 22) meets these requirements, but because of its cost it is used 
somewhat sparingly. Some bathrooms are tiled from floor to ceiling, but 

324 New Houses from Old 

more commonly tile is used on only the lower part of the wall. The remain- 
ing wall areas are finished with Portland-cement plaster or Keene's cement. 
Tile substitutes, glass, and linoleum are other materials often used on bath- 
room and kitchen walls. These materials, too, are often used only on part 
of the wall area. Quite satisfactory kitchen walls can also be made of such 
materials as wood paneling (Fig. 8.2). The wood should be made resistant 
to dampness by treating it with varnish, oil, or wax, and the wall areas 
adjacent to the range and to the sink should be covered with a more water- 
resistant material, such as tile or linoleum. 

Basement Walls 

The finish of the basement walls will depend on the use that is to be 
made of the basement. Unfinished masonry walls will usually be sufficient 
in basements used chiefly for storage and as locations for the heating plant 
and laundry; but if you want to have a recreation room in the basement, 
you will probably want a more decorative wall treatment. The simplest and 
least expensive treatment for masonry walls is to paint them with a suitable 
paint (Chapter 23). However, other types of wall treatment are often 
desired. Their installation should begin with proper construction of the 
foundation wall from the viewpoint of making it watertight (Chapter 15) ; 
but even though the foundation wall is dampproofed, some dampness will 
find its way through the wall in most locations. Furthermore, since base- 
ments are seldom as well ventilated as walls above the basement level, there 
is always the danger of considerable condensation of moisture on them. 

At one time basement walls were prepared to receive plaster by damp- 
proofing them with a coating of asphalt or pitch on the inside of the wall, 
and the plaster was applied directly to the coating. However, such con- 
struction proved unsatisfactory. At the present time basement walls are 
furred out before the wall-covering material is applied. If the house is 
located in a region where infestation by subterranean termites may occur, it 
is advisable to use only wood that has been treated with creosote or some 
other termite-repellent chemical for the furring strips. (Metal furring 
strips, of course, would not introduce a termite hazard, but they sometimes 
corrode rather rapidly in basements.) The wood furring strips are usually 
secured to the wall with square-cut nails or with special screws or anchors 
designed for use in masonry. Nails are difficult to drive in a hard masonry 
wall, and the cutting of holes for screw anchors is a tedious process. A new 
method is to use nailing anchors that are simply cemented to the wall with 
a special rubber-base adhesive. 

Portland-cement plaster is preferred for use in basements, because it has 

Interior Walls and Trim 


more water resistance than lime or gypsum plaster. There should be an 
air space of at least 1 in. between the back of the plaster and the masonry. 
Basement walls can also be finished with plasterboard, many of the fiber- 


(.Courtesy Metal Lath Manufacturers Association.) 
Fig. 21.7. — Suspended ceiling constructed with metal runners and lath. 




2 X 4 





A B 

Fig. 21.8. — Wood-suspended ceilings. A. With joists in new ceiling running in 
same direction as joists in old ceiling. B. With joists in new ceiling running at 
right angles to joists in old ceiling. 

boards, plywood, and wood paneling. These materials also should be applied 
on furring strips so that there will be an air space of at least 1 in. between 
them and the basement wall. If plywood is used, it is advisable to use the 

326 New Houses from Old 

exterior type. Some of the fiberboards that are suitable for use in rooms 
above the basement level deteriorate under basement conditions; therefore, 
it is best before applying one of them to a basement wall to find out 
whether the manufacturer recommends it for such use. When fiberboard, 
plywood, or wood paneling is used on a basement wall, the installation 
should be planned so that the wood cannot serve as an access for termites. 

Suspended Ceilings 

It is often desirable in remodeling to lower ceilings that are too high. 
This is done by constructing what is called a suspended ceiling. The sim- 
plest way to make such a ceiling is to construct it of metal runner chan- 
nels, metal-channel cross furring, and metal lath (Fig. 21.7). The hangers 
should be located about 4 ft. apart so that no one of them will support 
more than 16 sq. ft. of ceiling. Galvanized wire of No. 8 gauge is suffi- 
ciently heavy for hangers. Suspended ceilings can also be built on frame- 
works of wood suspended from the ceiling joists (Fig. 21.8). The suspended 
surface must be built so that it will make a suitable backing for the par- 
ticular material. The construction shown in Fig. 21.7 is good for the sup- 
port of plaster; but if the ceiling is to be covered with plywood panels, 
for example, the suspended framework should be constructed of wood and 
its members spaced to provide nailing bearings for the plywood panels. 
Another method of making a ceiling in the basement is to nail wood fur- 
ring strips across the joists and to apply gypsum board to the furring strips. 

Repairing Old Plaster 

The common causes of plaster cracks are listed in the National Bureau 
of Standards' Recommended Minimum Requirements for Small Dwellings 
as follows: 

(1) Inadequate or fauhy footings under bearing posts, (2) too small girders 
or too few bearing posts, (3) joists of insufficient depth, (4) joists under parti- 
tions not doubled, (5) improper framing over wide openings, (6) uneven settle- 
ment due to shrinkage of wood frame improperly designed and constructed, (7) 
chimney not independent of the frame, (8) settlement of wall footings and foun- 
dations, (9) separation of partitions from walls, and (10) failure to conform to 
good plastering standards. 

Some things that will cause plaster to crack within a few months after a 
new house is finished eventually correct themselves and, therefore, will not 
cause further cracking after the plaster is repaired. Examples are the shrink- 

Interior Walls and Trim 


age of green wood, which in an old house will have run its course, and 
the uneven settlement of foundations, which often reach a state of stability 
after a certain amount of settling. On the other hand, defects in the house 
structure, such as inadequate posts under girders and inadequate girders, 
must be corrected or the repaired plaster will crack. 

Various makes of patching plaster are on the market. These materials 
should be used in accordance with the manufacturers' directions, but, in 
general, the procedure is as follows. The sides of the crack are cut back 
to solidly attached plaster and are made slightly wider at the bottom than 
at the top (Fig. 21.9). The crack is then cleaned of all loose material and 




^%^^ i fe%%f=i is^g^: 



w^ ^^^^^^^ 

Fig. 21.9. — Cutting back of old plaster to repair crack. A. When lath is firmly- 
nailed. B. Wider cut to permit renailing of loose or "springy" lath. 

is dampened, after which the patching plaster is shoved into the crack and 
leveled off with a trowel. After the plaster has hardened, it can be made 
level and smooth by rubbing it down with sandpaper. Large broken areas 
should be thoroughly cleaned and the old plaster keys between the lath 
knocked out. Such areas can be filled with patching plaster or with factory- 
mixed gypsum plaster applied in two or three coats. Plaster of Paris, which 
is sometimes used to repair holes and cracks in plaster, is suitable for only 
small repairs because it sets so quickly that good work cannot be done on 
large areas. 

Special pains must be taken with repairs in ceilings to obtain good ad- 
hesion of the plaster and to make the repaired area invisible. All of the 

328 New Houses from Old 

loose plaster on the edges of the crack or hole must be removed and the 
lath must be thoroughly cleaned. After the patching plaster has hardened, 
the repaired area should be smoothed carefully with sandpaper before the 
ceiling is repainted. If the area to be repaired is large, the patching plaster 
should be carefully leveled with a plasterer's rod or a straight piece of 
lumber before it has set. 

Old plaster can easily be covered over with other types of wall-finishing 
materials, such as linoleum, the various wallboards, and lumber paneling. 
The attractive walls in Fig. 21.3 were made by applying plywood over old 
plaster. Over-walling is often more economical in the long run than ex- 
tensive patching of old plaster, particularly if the defects in the old plaster 
are due to defects in the house frame that cannot be economically corrected. 

Interior Trim 

Interior trim includes the woodwork around doors and windows, the 
baseboards, picture moldings, chair rails, wainscoting, and the woodwork 
around open stairways. In very old houses the trim was handmade; but 
stock trim — also called millwork in the trade — has been used since about 
the middle of the nineteenth century. The chief requirements for good 
interior trim are that it be made of selected lumber practically free of such 
imperfections as sap stains, fungus stains, knots, and shakes. Both hard- 
woods and softwoods are used for trim. The softwoods, such as pine, are 
somewhat easier to apply, and they make satisfactory trim for most houses. 
Good trim of modern manufacture is air- or kiln-dried. 

Trim is usually secured with casing nails, which are driven through it 
into solid members of doorframes and window frames or into wall and 
partition studs. The nailheads are set, then the holes over them are filled 
with a suitable filling material, such as plastic wood, Swedish putty, or 
some proprietary filler. Trim is applied after the plaster or other wall- 
covering material but before the wall is painted or papered. The refinishing 
of interior woodwork is discussed in Chapter 23. 

If the house is a very old one with handmade trim, it is usually desirable 
to retain the trim even though this involves considerable expense for repair 
and refinishing. If the house has been ill-used or has stood unoccupied for 
a number of years, a considerable part of the original trim may be missing. 
Replacing it is a job for a craftsman who has the skill and the patience to 
duplicate the old headings and other decorations. 

In middle-aged and younger houses where the trim is made of stock mill- 
work, a decision must be made in each individual case as to whether the 
trim is worth rejuvenating or whether it will be better to replace it with 

Interior Walls and Trim 


new. Gingerbready trim of this period is usually not worth saving, but 
plain trim made of good wood can sometimes be reworked. This is particu- 
larly true of the massive but largely unornamented hardwood trim that was 
so popular in the early part of this century. Reworking is an operation for 
a home craftsman. The operation will not pay for itself if you keep track 
of your time; but if you can disregard this item, you may be able to pro- 
duce new woodwork that will unquestionably be made of superior, well- 
seasoned wood. The old trim is carefully removed from the wall in order 
not to dent its surface or split it. All nails are removed from it, and from 
that point onward it can be worked as new lumber. If it must be cut down 
much, it is convenient to have a power-driven bench saw and also a router 
and shaper. 

Although modern trim is now usually made of stock patterns and profiles 
that are offered in a wide variety by woodwork manufacturers, there is still 
plenty of room for expression of individual tastes and preferences. Examples 
of modern trim are shown in a number of the illustrations in Chapters 5, 
6, and 7 and elsewhere in this book. Typical profiles of baseboards and 
cornices are shown in Fig. 21.10. 


F G H I J 

Fig. 21.10. — A to E. Cornices. A. Built-up cornice. B. Cornice formed of triangular 
strip. A good type for use with plywood. D. Picture-mold cornice. F to /. Base- 
boards. F. Common type of three-member baseboard. /. Modern type with sub base, 
/. Flush base. 

330 New Houses from Old 

Planning Wall Remodeling 

The modernization of interior walls in remodeling a house often goes 
hand in hand with other operations, such as the placing of insulation in 
exterior walls and the installation of electric wiring, switches, fixtures, out- 
lets, plumbing pipes, pipes or ducts for the heating system, and sometimes 
new windows and doors. If any of these operations are to be undertaken, 
they should be planned before the work on the wall is started. If the work 
is to be done by a contractor, it will be necessary for you or your architect 
to provide him with working drawings on which the location of electrical 
fixtures, heating and plumbing pipes, and windows and doors must be 
shown. Even though you are going to do the remodeling work yourself, you 
will have to plan in advance all of the operations that will affect the walls 
and ceilinofs. 




J\ GOOD FLOOR must be firmly supported. The first steps in constructing 
a new floor in remodeling are, therefore, a thorough inspection of the 
floor joists and the making of any repairs that are needed to them (Chap- 
ter 17). 


In modern house construction, floors are usually made of two layers of 
boards with a layer of building paper or its equivalent between them 
(Fig. 22.1). The first layer, which is applied directly over the joists, is 
called subflooring. Square-edged lumber, tongued-and-grooved lumber, and 
plywood are suitable materials for the subfloor. 

Square-edged boards can be laid tight unless they will be exposed to 
considerable dampness, in which case they should be laid so that there is 
a space of % to ^4 i"- between the boards. The latter method of application 
should be used under the first floors of houses that will be occupied only 
part of the year, in basementless houses, and over basements with earthen 
floors. Joints must be made over joists. Tongued-and-grooved subflooring 
(Fig. 22.2) makes a tighter and firmer floor, but it cannot be used in 
damp locations. If the lumber is also end-matched (Fig. 22.4), it is not 
necessary to lay it so that all end joints will occur over joists. End-matched 
joints are strong enough to permit a single end joint between joists, but 
two unsupported joints in one strip of flooring should not be made between 
a pair of joists, nor should two of them occur in adjacent strips between 
the same pair of joists. Square-edged and tongued-and-grooved subflooring 
should both be laid diagonally at an angle of 45° to the joists. It is good 
practice to run diagonal flooring in one direction on the first floor and 
in the opposite direction on the second floor. 

The recommended dimensions (nominal) of lumber for subflooring are 
1 in. by 4 in. or 1 in. by 6 in. Boards as wide as 1 in. by 10 in. are some- 
times used but are not recommended because of their tendency to warp. 



New Houses from Old 

Fig. 22.1. — Cutaway view of floor, showing details of construction, a, joists, h, 
subfloor. c, building paper, d, finish floor. 

The nailing of square-edged flooring and of tongued-and-grooved flooring 
is shown in Fig. 22.2. The boards are nailed at every joist, two nails being 
driven in square-edged boards 4 or 6 in. wide, three nails in wider boards, 
and one nail in tongued-and-grooved boards. 

Many woods are suitable for subflooring. Softwoods, such as pine or hem- 
lock in the grades known in the trade as No. 1 and No. 2 common, are 
usually employed when the lumber must be purchased. In remodeling, it 
is often possible to use lumber salvaged in the remodeling operation. In 
existing houses where the floors are single layered, the old floor often serves 
as the subfloor for the remodeled floor. 

Plywood panels make a tight, strong, and even subfloor. Five-ply sheath- 
ing-grade plywood is recommended. The /^-in. thickness is adequate for 
application over joists spaced 16 in. on center, and the %-in. thickness is 
adequate for joists spaced up to 24 in. on center. Plywood panels should 
be laid so that the direction of the grain of the outer plies is at right 
angles to the joists. Recommended nailing practice is an 8-penny nail every 
6 in. on bearings at the edges of the panels and one every 10 in. on bearings 
away from the edges. 

In houses built before the twentieth century, the floor usually consisted 
of only a single layer of boards, which were square edged in early con- 
struction and usually tongued and grooved in later construction. In some 

Floors 333 








Fig. 22.2. — Two methods of building and nailing the subfloor. In A square-edged 
boards are used. In B the boards are tongued and grooved. 

old houses these single-layered floors have now been covered with another 
layer of flooring, but many examples of them still exist and are encoun- 
tered in remodeling. In very old houses the single-layered floors were often 
made of wide, heavy boards that were fastened to the joists with wooden 
dowels. These are the so-called pegged floors. Modern plank floors resemble 
somewhat the old pegged floors, but the planks are not usually fastened 
with wooden pins in present-day construction. 

Finish Flooring 

In modern construction both softwoods and hardwoods are used for the 
finish layer of flooring, which is applied over the subfloor. As a general 
rule, the hardwoods are more durable, more attractive, and more expensive. 
Because of their greater cost, they are often used only in such rooms as 
the hall, living room, and dining room, and the softwoods are used in other 
parts of the house. 

Hardwoods. The hardwoods regularly used for finish flooring are oak, 
maple, beech, and birch. Pecan is a recently introduced flooring wood. 
Flooring materials of these woods are now manufactured under grading 
rules formulated by the National Oak Flooring Manufacturers' Association 
and the Maple Flooring Manufacturers' Association. Rules of the first-men- 


New Houses from Old 

tioned association cover not only oak flooring but also maple, beech, birch 
and pecan; while the rules of the second association cover maple, beech, 
and birch. Hardwood flooring is manufactured in such thicknesses as 
^Ygo in., ^'%2 iri-? ^nd ^%2 iii- ^^ f^ce widths running from 1^ to 
3^4 in-9 3rid in lengths running from 1^> to 16 ft., all of these dimensions 
being actual rather than nominal. Nominal or "counted" sizes are still used 
to some extent in the trade, but they vary considerably from the actual 
sizes. The flooring is sold in bundles that contain one thickness and one 
width but random lengths. 


{Courtesy Southern Pine Association.) 

Fig. 22.3. — Diagram showing the relative positions of edge-grain and flat-grain 
flooring in the log. 

Oak flooring is made of both red and white oaks. Although there is a 
preference in some regions of the country for one or the other of these 
oaks, there is no important difference in their suitability for flooring. 
Quartersawed oak flooring is produced by first sawing a round log into 
quarters, much as a pie is cut, then sawing each quarter into boards. This 
produces a distinctive grain pattern that is well known. Although quarter- 
sawed oak flooring is a superior material, it is not so popular now as it 
was two or three decades ago. Most oak flooring used at the present time 
is "plain-sawed." There is a considerable variation in color in oak flooring 
not only because of the use of various species of oak but also because of 
the distinct difference in color between the heartwood (the wood in the 
interior of the log) and the sapwood (the wood in the outer portion of 
the log). 

Floors 335 

Two species of maple — ^hard maple and black maple — are used to pro- 
duce maple flooring. While there is some difference in color between the 
heartwood and sapwood of these species, the difference is disregarded in 
selecting the regular grades of maple flooring; but special grades selected 
for uniformity in color are sometimes available. There are similar vari- 
ations between the heartwood and sapwood in beech and birch, but grades 
selected for color can be purchased in these woods. 

If the remodeling operation includes the installation of hardwood floor- 
ing in several rooms, a floor of nearly uniform color can be had in each 
of the rooms by sorting the shipment of flooring into as many shades of 
color as there are rooms. However, variations in color are usually dis- 
regarded in laying hardwood floors, since the variations are not great enough 
to spoil the appearance of the finished floor. The higher grades of hard- 
wood flooring are all kiln-dried and are finished with side and end matching 
and hollowed backs. They are marketed in bundles marked with the grade. 
Hardwood flooring is a high-quality and expensive building material, hence 
it should be given good care after it is delivered to the job. It should never, 
for example, be exposed to the weather or stored in a cellar or other damp 

Softwoods. Many woods are manufactured into softwood flooring. Among 
them are southern pine, Douglas fir, western hemlock, western larch, red- 
wood, southern cypress, western red cedar, spruce, and tamarack. Flooring 
made of these woods also is usually manufactured and graded under rules 
of manufacturers' associations. The Southern Pine Association has drawn 
up rules for flooring made of southern pine, and the West Coast Lumber- 
men's Association has formulated rules for flooring made of Douglas fir, 
western hemlock, and several other western woods. Softwood flooring is 
manufactured in widths that run from 2% in. to as wide as 5^ in. and 
in lengths from 4 to 20 ft., all of these dimensions being actual rather than 
nominal. Southern-pine flooring is manufactured in two widths — 2% in. 
and Sy^ in. Edge-grain flooring (Fig. 22.3) is considered superior, since 
it wears more evenly and is less likely to sliver. On the other hand, the 
grain patterns in flat-grain flooring are very attractive in many softwood 

The better grades of softwood flooring are manufactured with side match- 
ing and matched ends and also with hollowed backs and "scratched" backs 
(Fig. 22.4). All grades are kiln-dried and are marketed in packages that 
carry the grade and trade-mark. Softwood flooring is also a high-grade 
building material that should be protected from the weather and dampness 
after it is delivered to the job. 


New Houses from Old 

Laying the Finish Floor 

The finish floor is not installed until the remodeling of walls and ceilings 
is completed. Then the subfloor is scraped free of any adhering materials, 
such as plaster, and is swept clean. The lining is then laid over the sub- 
floor. The best material for the lining is a waterproof building paper with 
a glazed coating. If insulation is needed, as when the floor is directly over 
a heating plant or over an open porch, it can be provided by placing fiber 
insulation board over the paper and under the finish flooring. 




(Courtesy Southern Fine Association.) 

Fig. 22.4. 

If the subfloor has been laid diagonally, the finish floor can be laid in 
either direction in relation to the joists. Finish flooring is usually laid 
parallel to the long dimension of the house or room and is run through 
the doors from room to room without a break at the door. The wooden 
thresholds found under the doors in many old houses are usually removed. 
If the new floor is thicker than the old thresholds, the bottoms of the doors 
must be cut off enough to permit the door to swing over the new floor. 

Flooring that is "^^2 ^^- or more thick should be nailed with 8-penny 
cut flooring nails. Thinner flooring is nailed with 6-penny wire casing nails. 
Longer nails are necessary if an insulation board is placed under the 
flooring. The nails are spaced about every 10 in, along the tongue, and the 
head of each one is set into the wood after it is driven. The joints must be 
driven up snug. An excellent tool for this operation can be made by planing 




the tongue off a waste strip of flooring and enlarging the groove with a 
chisel or sandpaper so that it will slip easily on and off the tongue of the 
flooring strips. The block prepared this way is used by placing it against 
the strip of flooring that is being laid and by striking the planed edge 
with a hammer or mallet. Experienced floorers usually nail three or four 
strips, then drive them up snugly after they are nailed; but it is better 
for the inexperienced worker to drive each strip as it is laid. 



A B 

Fig. 22.5. — Nailing details for first strip of finish floor. A. With base molding. B. 
Without base molding. Face nails in B may be countersunk and the holes filled 
with plastic wood. (See also Fig. 21.10.) 

End joints between strips need not be nailed unless the subflooring is 
uneven. If they are nailed, they should be blind-nailed through the tongue 
the same as the side joints. End joints should be staggered so that they 
will not be in line with one another more often than every three or four 
strips. This is easily accomplished by sorting out the strips of flooring by 
length. Since the walls of rooms in houses are often not parallel, it is best 
to measure them before the flooring is laid and to make small adjustments 
in the floor to take care of any irregularity. These adjustments are made 
by planing off slightly the tongues and grooves of a few strips of flooring. 

After the finish floor is down, it should be carefully protected from dirt 
and damage until the finish is applied (Chapter 23). A good method of 
protection is to sweep it thoroughly clean and then to cover it with a tough 
building paper. 

One hundred square feet of flooring as it is sold never covers 100 sq. ft. of 
floor. The quantity needed is usually estimated by finding the number of 
square feet to be covered, then increasing this number by a percentage that 
varies for each width of flooring as follows: 3^ in., 23 per cent; 2% in., 
27.5 per cent; 2^2 in., 20 per cent; 2^ in., 33.33 per cent; 2 in., 25 per 

338 New Houses from Old 

cent. The apparent discrepancies in these percentages are explained by the 
fact that some of the widths are thicker or thinner than others, and the 
difference in thickness affects the depth of the tongues and grooves. Even 
these increases are not large enough if the room is quite irregular or if 
many pieces of flooring will be discarded because of color. 

Repair and Modernization of Wood Floors 

Old floors, particularly softwood floors, are often badly worn in parts 
of the house such as the kitchen and hallways where there is heavy traffic. 
If the old floor consists of only a single layer of boards, the best method 
of repair in most cases is to treat it as a subfloor and to finish it with 
another layer of flooring. Rotted boards should first be removed and re- 
placed with boards of the same thickness. Protruding nails in the old floor 
should be driven down and bumps should be leveled off with a plane or 
with a floor-scraping machine. Hollows can be filled with plastic wood or 
with a mastic floor compound. Badly worn spots can be cut out with a 
chisel or keyhole saw and the areas filled in with new boards. 

A lining is then applied over the subfloor, and the finish floor is placed 
over it as in constructing a new floor. Another way of preparing a worn 
floor to receive another layer of flooring is to cover it with plywood sheath- 
ing of ^- or %g-in. thickness. Because this material, if it is properly nailed, 
will resist deflection under average loads, it is not so important to get the 
old floor smooth; but protruding nails should be driven down and high 
bumps should be leveled off. A lining is placed over the old floor, and the 
plywood is nailed through the lining and the old flooring to the joists. 
Some of the fiberboards can be used in the same way. 

A worn floor that already consists of two layers of flooring can be made 
new by removing the top layer of flooring and preparing the subfloor to 
receive a new finish floor. Such a complete rehabilitation is necessary only 
when the old finish floor is made of inferior wood or when it is so badly 
worn that replacement will be cheaper than repair. If the floor is not badly 
worn, it can be scraped down and refinished. A powered floor-sanding 
machine simplifies the job; but if such a machine is not available, the 
floor can be scraped down with hand tools. If cracks have opened up all 
over the floor, it will be best to remove the flooring and re-lay it. The 
flooring should, of course, be removed carefully in order to avoid splitting 
at the joints. If it is solidly nailed, this is a tedious job, but it is worth 
while if the old flooring is made of a good hardwood. In re-laying it, the 
joints should be driven up tight as they are in laying a new floor. A few 



extra strips of flooring will be needed to fill in the space formerly given 
up to the cracks. 

A different problem comes up in floors that have been Exposed to enough 
dampness to cause some of the boards to rise up at the joints, making 
bulges in the floor. No attempt should be made to correct this defect until 
the house has thoroughly dried out. If possible, the house should be heated 
by means of the heating plant for at least a month. Sometimes the floor 
will shrink enough under this treatment so that the bulges will flatten out 
of themselves. When they do not do so, it is necessary to remove the strips 





Fig. 22.6. — Repairing a bulged floor. The grooves are cut off one strip, as along 
dotted line in A. Bottom groove is cut off new strip. Small holes are drilled, as 
at h, spaced 18 in. to 24 in. apart, and are filled with plastic wood after nails are 
driven and countersunk. 

of flooring adjacent to the bulge and to plane them down. Removing and 
replacing such boards is not difficult if their edges are square. However, 
if they are tongued and grooved, a special technique is necessary. 

Squeaky boards in a two-layered floor are the result of insufficient nailing 
or of an uneven surface under the top layer of flooring. If only a few of 
the boards squeak, the defect can be remedied by lifting them, putting strips 
of lining felt underneath, and renailing them firmly. If most of the floor is 
squeaky, the only permanent cure is re-laying it. Squeaks in a single-layered 
floor usually result from insufficient support under the floor, but they may 


New Houses from Old 

also result from too flexible flooring. If the underside of the floor is access- 
ible, extra support under a squeaky spot can be built in as shown in 
Fig. 22.7. If the flnderside is not accessible or the squeaky areas are numer- 
ous, the floor should be replaced with stiffer lumber or used as a subfloor 
for a two-layered floor. If a flooring material that lacks stiffness, such as 
linoleum, is placed over such a floor, the floor should first be covered with 
a stiff material such as plywood sheathing. 



Fig. 22.7. — Method of providing extra support under a squeaky spot in single- 
layered floor. 

If the house you are remodeling is an old one with single-layered floors 
made of wide, heavy boards, you will probably wish to retain them in their 
original state. The best methods of repairing such floors depend on such 
factors as their thickness and how they are laid. If they are level and suf- 
ficiently thick, they can be dressed down with a floor machine and re- 
finished as a new wood floor; but if they are very uneven and thin in 
spots, a floor machine should not be used on them. Instead, they should 
be scraped and smoothed as much as possible with hand tools, then re- 
finished, even though it is necessary to leave some bumps and hollows in 
them. Sometimes a badly worn floor of this kind can be salvaged by turning 
the boards over. 

Cracks in old wood floors can be repaired by cleaning the dirt out of 
them, then filling them with a suitable crack-filling material, of which there 
are many on the market Cracks can be filled with a mixture made of fine 
sawdust and spar varnish; but if the cracks are deep, this type of filler 
sometimes dries rather slowly and shrinks considerably as it dries. Putty 
should not be used as a crack filler unless the floor is to be oiled (Chap- 
ter 23), since the oil in it will stain the wood adjacent to the cracks. 

Floors 341 

Linoleum Flooring 

Linoleum is a thoroughly established flooring material for the kitchen 
and bathroom, and it is used to a considerable extent also in halls and 
other rooms in the house. Linoleum is made of oxidized linseed oil com- 
bined with finely ground cork, various fibers, fillers, and coloring ingre- 
dients. The material is pressed onto a backing of burlap or felt. Linoleum 
is manufactured in a great variety of patterns and colors. Although lino- 
leum tiles are manufactured, linoleum is usually applied to the floor in 
the form of continuous strips in the standard width of 6 ft. 

Battleship linoleum is the heaviest grade. It is manufactured in Y^- and 
%6-in. thicknesses; and it usually, but not always, has a burlap back. 
Battleship linoleum is a very durable material, but because of its cost it is 
not often used in houses. Good-quality linoleum for house floors is usually 
Vs '^^ %2 ^^- ill thickness and has a felt back. The first thickness, or gauge, 
is known in the trade as heavy, and the second is known as standard. Such 
terms as inlaid, jaspe, and marbleized refer to the methods of producing 
patterns or color effects. Inlaid linoleum consists of blocks or other decora- 
tive shapes, which are applied to the backing in distinct units and usually 
in contrasting colors. Embossed inlaid linoleum is made in the same way, 
but some of the pattern elements are depressed or have depressed borders 
to produce the embossed effect. In jaspe linoleum the colors are striated. 
Marbleized linoleum has a variegated color pattern that somewhat resembles 
the veining of stone. Printed or stamped linoleums are often only enamel 
applied to a felt back. They are manufactured in a variety of colors and 
patterns; but compared with other linoleums, they have a short life. 

Printed and stamped linoleums are usually laid on the floor as a rug is, 
without fastening; but the heavier types of linoleum are applied by a 
method known as resilient floor construction. Linoleum can be laid over 
a wood subfloor or a finished floor. The method of application is the same 
in either case. The floor is first made level, smooth, and clean. If it is 
old and worn, bumps must be planed off and hollows filled in by one of 
the methods described earlier in this chapter. In addition, any floor-finishing 
material such as oil, wax, paint, or varnish should be removed in order to 
obtain thorough adhesion of the linoleum paste. Plywood and fiberboard 
panels can be used over an old floor to prepare it for linoleum. 

When linoleum is laid, it is necessary for the floor to be at a tempera- 
ture of at least 70° F. The linoleum should be kept at a temperature of 
at least 70 °F. for about forty -eight hours before it is unrolled. Linoleum 
paste is spread evenly over the floor. A layer of lining felt is then applied 


New Houses from Old 

on the paste. The lining should run across the floor boards. The seams in 
the felt are butted tight but not lapped. The felt is then rolled with a lino- 
leum roller, beginning at the center and working toward the edges of the 
floor. All air bubbles must be worked out in the rolling process, and special 
care must be taken to roll the seams and edges of the felt thoroughly. 
Edges along the walls are rolled last by running the roller parallel to the 
walls. Next, the top side of the felt is coated with linoleum paste. 







MIN. HT. 3I/2 

Fig. 22.8. — Linoleum bases. A. Cove base formed with wax fillet strip. A wood 
strip may also be used. B. Base formed with metal cove molding. C. Cove base 
under cabinet. 



The linoleum should be laid so that the number of seams in the finished 
floor will be kept to a minimum. Preferably, it should also be laid across 
the floor boards; but when this is not possible without increasing the num- 
ber of seams, it can be laid parallel to them. When it is laid parallel, a 
strip of fabric manufactured for the purpose is pasted to the felt under the 
seams. Exposed edges, as in doorways, may be finished with beveled strips 
of linoleum available from manufacturers or with metal or plastic or wood 
edgings. After it is in place, the linoleum is rolled carefully, beginning at 
the center and rolling toward the edges. Sandbags are then placed over 
seams and exposed edges and left in place for about twenty-four hours. 
Linoleum bases (Fig. 22.8) are frequently installed in conjunction with 
linoleum floors. 





-1" L 


G H I 

(Courtesy R. D. Werner Company.) 

Fig. 22.9. — Typical metal moldings for linoleum. A. Cap for wall. B. Outside corner 
on wall. C. Inside corner on wall. D. Panel divider on wall. E, F. Floor base mold- 
ings. G, H, I, Edge moldings for cabinet sinks and table tops. 

The covering of sink and cabinet tops with linoleum is done in essentially 
the same way. If the surface is quite smooth, the underlay can be omitted; 
but some manufacturers recommend a special type of underlay designed for 


New Houses from Old 

sink tops. Regular linoleum paste can be used as the adhesive, but there is 
also available a rubber-base adhesive for sink tops. The linoleum is pressed 
down with sandbags. Many shapes of metal moldings are available for 
finishing the edges (Fig. 22.9). 

Cork Tile 

Cork-tile flooring is somewhat similar in composition to linoleum, but 
the cork used is not ground so finely and the material is finished so that 
it has the appearance of cork. Its special features are that it is quiet and 
also warm to the touch, and therefore it is suitable for use in bedrooms and 
nurseries. Cork tiles are available in random shades of tan and brown. The 
standard thickness is Y^q in., and the tiles are manufactured in two sizes, 
6 in. by 6 in. and 9 in. by 9 in. Cork tile is fastened to the floor with an 
adhesive (Fig. 22.10). A firm, even base is necessary; but usually no lining 
is required under the tile. 

(Courtesy David E. Kennedy Company.) 
Fig. 22.10. — Laying a cork-tile floor. 

Floors 345 

Asphalt Tile 

Asphalt tile somewhat resembles linoleum in appearance, but the ma- 
terials used in it are different. Coloring pigments and asphalt mixed with 
asbestos or other types of fibers are the usual materials, but the ingredients 
vary. Grease-proof asphalt tile, for example, usually contains synthetic 
resins. Asphalt tile is manufactured in solid colors and in jaspe and 
marbleized color blends. The standard thicknesses used for house floors 
are Yg and Yiq in., and the standard tile is a 9-in. square, although other 
dimensions and shapes are available. 

Some manufacturers recommend that asphalt tile be laid by the same 
method as has been described for linoleum. Other manufacturers recom- 
mend laying it without an underlay if the floor is made of tongued-and- 
grooved boards not over 3 in. wide. In any event, a smooth, firm surface 
must be provided. 

After an adequate surface is prepared, it is covered with an adhesive and 
the tiles are laid on the adhesive. After the tiles are laid, the floor should 
be rolled with a linoleum roller. When a roller is not available, the tiles 
can be pressed down with sandbags. Strips of various widths are available 
for making borders. Exposed edges of an asphalt-tile floor should be pro- 
tected with a wood, metal, or plastic molding. 

Linoleum tile, cork tile, and asphalt tile are all easier to lay in an 
irregular room than roll linoleum because of the greater ease with which 
individual tiles can be cut to fit around such objects as doorframes and 
pipes. Floors made of these tiles are also easier to repair. 

Asphalt tile can also be applied over a concrete subfloor, even concrete 
floors that are in contact with the earth, as in basements. Cracks and irregu- 
larities should first be filled in with Portland-cement mortar (Chapter 14). 
The floor is then primed with a priming composition. Asphalt cement rec- 
ommended by the manufacturer for use on concrete floors is then applied 
over the subfloor, and the tiles are laid in it. 

Ceramic-tile Walls and Floors 

Ceramic tile is made of selected clays, which after processing and shaping 
are fired at an intense heat in kilns. The result is a hard, very durable 
material with permanent colors. The clay can be fired so that the entire 
body of the tile is turned into a glasslike substance (vitreous tile) or so 
that it is only partly vitrified (semivitreous tile). Tile can also be made 
with a fired-on surface glaze similar to the glaze on dinnerware, or it can 


New Houses from Old 














0<i _| 
'-' jO 




tJ_iO = 



c^ .2 

























05 & 






















fe <o 

Floors 347 

be made without a glaze. Glazed tile is usually used on walls. Ordinary 
varieties of floor and wall tile can be purchased from most dealers in 
building supplies. The small tiles that are commonly used on bathroom 
floors are known as ceramic-mosaic tiles. They are about ^4 in. thick and 
are usually sold mounted on paper. Larger floor tiles and wall tiles are 
sold unmounted. Tiles of special shapes are required at the base and top 
of the wall and on outside corners. 

Walls. To prepare the wall for tile (Fig. 22.11), metal lath is placed on 
the wall studs so that all laps in it occur over either studs or blocking. 
The lath must be carefully nailed. A scratch coat composed of 1 part 
Portland cement, ^4 part hydrated lime, and 2 parts sand is applied to 
the lath. The scratch coat should be about ^ in. thick. After it is placed, 
it is thoroughly scratched and then allowed to harden for at least one day. 

There are two methods of placing the tiles on the scratch coat, which are 
known, respectively, as floating and buttering. If the tiles are floated, strips 
of lath are buttered thinly with mortar and stuck vertically on the scratch 
coat about 30 in. apart. These strips are carefully plumbed. Mortar of the 
same composition as the scratch coat is then troweled on between the lath 
and is brought out flush with them. Since the tile must be placed in the 
mortar soon after it is applied, it is advisable for the inexperienced work- 
man to place the second coat of mortar on only a small section of wall at 
a time. 

Semivitreous tile should be soaked in water before placing, but vitreous 
tile need not be soaked. The cove tile at the base of a wall section should 
be placed first and the wall built upward from the floor. A grout made by 
mixing Portland cement with enough water to give it the consistency of 
thick cream is spread on the back of each tile. The tile is then placed in 
the mortar and beaten into it slightly with a hammer and small wood 
block. The tiles are kept even and plumb by testing them with a straight- 
edged piece of lumber and with a level. Tiles that are beaten in too far 
should be lifted and a small additional amount of mortar placed under 
them. When a section of wall has been laid, the lath ground on one side 
is removed and the groove under it filled with mortar. 

If the tiles are applied by buttering, the second coat of mortar is omitted 
and the lath guides are not used. Instead, small tiles or broken bits are 
spotted on the scratch coat about 2 ft. apart. A thick coat of mortar is 
placed on the back of each tile. These tiles are made plumb by tapping 
them against the scratch coat until they test plumb with a level (Fig. 22.12). 
When an adequate number of tiles have been spotted, the wall tiles are then 
set beginning with the cove tile at the bottom and building up. As each tile 
is placed, it is first coated with grout, then buttered with mortar. Together 


New Houses from Old 

with the butter mortar, it is then placed on the scratch coat and tapped 
sufficiently to make it plumb with the spotted tile. 

Joints between the tile are spaced by using a putty knife or other tool 
of the desired thickness. The bed mortar should not fill the joints between 
the tile. After the mortar has set, the joints between the tile are filled with 
cement grout. White Portland cement is usually used for this grout, but 
attractive color effects can be obtained by using colored cement. The grout 
can be painted into the joints with a stiff paint brush. After the joints have 
been grouted, the surface of the wall is washed with clean water and finally 
is rubbed with sawdust. No acid should be used in washing glazed wall tile. 




Fig. 22.12. 

There are few tile-setting jobs that do not require some cutting and 
drilling of tile. Glazed tiles with soft bodies can usually be cut by scoring 
the glaze deeply with a chisel or glass cutter, then tapping the back of the 
tile lightly with a hammer while supporting it on the edges parallel to the 
score mark. If the body of the tile is harder, the glaze should be scored, 
then the line cut gradually deeper with a chisel. Rough edges on cut tile 
can be made smooth by nipping along the edge with pincers, then rubbing 
them down with a carborundum block. Pincers are used to make curved 



cuts. Some tile can be cut on a slate-cutting machine, and practically all 
of them can be ground down on a power-driven carborundum grinding 
wheel. Tiles should be cut before they are soaked. Small holes can be 
drilled in tile with metal-cutting twist drills. Chipping the glaze with a 
chisel before drilling is started helps in getting the drill started. 

Various substitutes for ceramic tile on walls are available. These are 
described in Chapter 21. Often in remodeling, especially when the work 
is being done on a limited budget, it is better to cover the bathroom floor 
with linoleum or some other waterproof material and to use one of the 
tile substitutes for the wall treatment. Installation of these substitute 
materials usually requires much less skill than the laying of ceramic tile. 



3/4' MIN. 

Fig. 22.13. — Construction details of tile floors over wood. A. The preferable method 
in remodeling. B. Conventional method. 

Floors. The time-honored way of laying a ceramic-tile floor is to place 
the tile in a bed of mortar. This bed may consist of only a single layer of 
mortar (Fig. 22.13A) . A wood subfloor made of tongued-and-grooved 1-in. by 
6-in. boards is placed diagonally on the joists and securely nailed. The 

350 New Houses from Old 

boards are then covered with waterproofed building paper lapped at least 
2 in. at the seams. A "shrinkage mesh" of wire fabric or metal lath is 
applied over the paper, lapped at least one mesh along its edges, and 
nailed every 6 in. along the laps. A suitable mortar mix for the bed is 
1 part Portland cement to 3 parts sand. This method of making the floor 
is preferable in remodeling because it does not require any cutting of joists, 
and the floor that it produces is not excessively heavy. However, it does 
raise the floor level 1 or 2 in. The construction shown in Fig. 22.13B is often 
used in remodeling because it produces a floor that has the same level as 
the old one, but it is not recommended because of the great weight that it 
puts on the floor joists. 

If the tiles are only ^4 i^i- thick, the top of the setting bed can be made 
level with the top of the grounds; but if they are thick, the top of the 
setting bed should be below the grounds by a distance equal to the thick- 
ness of the title minus ^4 ^^- After the setting bed is leveled, a thin layer 
of dry Portland cement is placed on it. The tiles are then placed on the 
dry cement and are forced into the mortar with a beater. A piece of straight 
2-in. by 4-in. lumber about 12 or 15 in. long makes a good beater. The 
beater is placed on the tile and is struck gently with a hammer to sink 
the tile into the setting bed. Tiles that are glued to a layer of paper are 
placed on the mortar with the paper side up. If the tiles are placed in a 
pattern, it is best to sketch the pattern on the paper before laying is started 
in order to avoid making mistakes. Tiles that are not fastened to paper 
are placed on top of the wet mortar individually, and the joints between 
them are spaced with the end of a putty knife or some other suitable tool. 
To hold unpapered floor tile in the right spacing while work is going on, 
the joints are filled with a mixture of dry cement and very fine sand. After 
the tiles have been beaten into the setting bed, the surface of the floor 
should be tested with a level. Any tiles that are too high should be beaten 
down further, and any that are too low should be lifted out and a small 
additional amount of mortar placed under them. 

The paper on papered tile sheets will tend to loosen during the beating-in 
process. If it does not loosen completely, it should be soaked with water 
and pulled off carefully after the tiles have been laid. The surface of the 
tiles should be cleaned as soon as they have been leveled. This can be done 
without disturbing the tiles by wiping over the surface in one direction 
with wet cloths. Do not try to remove all of the mortar and dirt in one 
wiping, but rinse the cloths out and repeat the process until the tiles are 

The floors in large rooms are laid in sections. After each section is com- 
pleted, the ground that borders it is removed and the groove that was occu- 



pied by it is filled with mortar. Professional tile setters usually set the tile 
in the floor of a small room in one operation and without using grounds. 
They obtain a level surface by testing the tile with a level and by correcting 
any high or low spots before the mortar under the tile has set. 

After the mortar under the tiles has hardened, the loose material in the 
joints are brushed out with a fine brush. The grout is then pushed into 
the joints with a paintbrush, after which the surface of the tiles is again 
wiped clean with wet cloths. As a final cleaning process, the tiles are rubbed 
over with sawdust to remove all traces of mortar. It is permissible to use 
not more than 10 per cent of muriatic acid in the water used for the first 
stage in the cleaning of the floor. The acid water should then be thoroughly 
removed with many rinses of pure water. # 








hil;i'iM\!i;t!-t.t'>ii i Mri..||^('4 J 


(Based on data and drawings furnished 
by Miracle Adhesives Corporation.) 

Fig. 22.14. — Application of ceramic tile with adhesive. 

Setting ceramic tile in adhesive. The setting of ceramic tile in Portland- 
cement mortar is not an easy operation and it has the further disadvantage 
in remodeling of adding much weight to the walls and floor of the room. 
There is another method which is easier for the amateur workman and 
which also avoids the weight difficulty. In this method the tiles are placed 
in a bed of a special rubber-base adhesive (Fig. 22.14). A firm, smooth 
base must be provided, but wall tile can be placed over such materials as 
gypsum board, fiber wallboard, and plywood, and floor tile can be placed 


New Houses from Old 

on lumber flooring or plywood flooring. After the tiles have been set and 
the adhesive has hardened, the tiles can be grouted with Portland cement 
in the usual way. 

Ceramic-tile floors on porches and terraces. Tile is laid on wooden-frame 
porches in essentially the same way as in bathrooms. The chief difference 
is that large tiles, such as quarry tiles, which are manufactured in thick- 
nesses of % ^rid 1 in. and in 6-in. and 9-in. squares, are used in these places. 
Tile porches and terraces are usually given a slight outward pitch so that 
water will drain off. A better method of construction for tiled porches and 
terraces is to omit the wooden frame and to place the concrete base directly 
on the ground. The outer walls should extend to 6 in. below the frost line 
(Fig. 22.15). The base pr^j^per is placed on compacted fill such as cinders. 
A 1:3:5 mortar mix is adequate for the base, but the tiles are laid in a 
setting bed of 1:2 or 1:3 mortar. A similar method of construction can 
be used for flagstone and brick porches and terraces. 




J-l,... ■ - ,.'1 





Fig. 22.15. — Construction details of tiled terrace. 

Porch Floors of Wood 

Softwoods, such as southern pine, are commonly used for the floors of 
porches that are roofed over. If the porch is well ventilated underneath 
and the floor will be kept painted, 1-in. by 4-in. tongued-and-grooved boards 
can be used. The tongues and grooves should be painted with thinned white 
lead paste before the boards are laid. Porches that are not roofed over or 
not well ventilated underneath should be floored with decay-resistant wood, 
such as redwood or southern cypress. Square-edged boards should be used. 



They are laid with tight joints. The boards may eventually shrink and cause 
open cracks, but this is not objectionable in porch floors. 

Basement Floors 

Basement floors are usually made of poured concrete. If the soil is fairly 
loose and dry, it can be leveled off and dampened; then the floor can be 
placed directly on it. However, if the soil is wet or clayey, it is better to 
excavate the area to a depth of 6 to 12 in. and to fill in the excavation 
with loose materials such as gravel or cinders. The fill must be leveled 
and well tamped before the concrete is placed. The minimum thickness of 
concrete that is satisfactory for basement floors is 4 in. If the ground-water 
level is close to the bottom of the basement, making it probable that the 
floor will be subjected to water pressure during wet seasons, a 6-in. thick- 
ness is better. A 1:3:5 concrete mix is commonly used for basement floors, 
but a mix with more cement in it will make a more satisfactory floor. Con- 
crete basement floors are often constructed in two layers — a base and a top- 
ping (Chapter 14). Whether a topping is used or not, the floor should be 
floated to bring finer materials to the top and to make it level. 

An expansion joint is constructed around the outer edge of the floor by 






■16 O.C 
2")'3" SLEf PERS>^ 


Fig. 22.16. 

{Courtesy Architectural Record.) 

354 New Houses from Old 

placing 1-in. boards next to the foundation wall before the concrete is 
poured. The boards should be oiled to prevent sticking to the concrete. 
After the floor has hardened, these boards are removed and the crack is 
filled to within 1 in. of its top with tar or asphalt. The 1-in. gap between 
the top of the asphalt and the floor then forms a small gutter to catch 
water that may condense on the walls. If the basement floor is to have no 
other finish, it should be sloped toward a floor drain so that water used 
in cleaning will drain off. 

In most houses the basement has a concrete floor that is quite adequate 
for ordinary uses. However, if the basement is converted to a recreation 
room or other living space, it is usually desirable to apply a finish flooring 
of some other material over the concrete. Four ways of placing finish floor- 
ing over a concrete slab are shown in Fig. 22.16. Wood that is in direct 
contact with the concrete should be treated with creosote or an equivalent 
preservative and termite repellent. Asphalt tile, described earlier in this 
chapter, is another flooring material that is suitable for application to base- 
ment floors. 



Painting and Papering 

VJOMPLETE REMODELING always includes much painting; and even in oper- 
ations such as the installation of a bathroom, there are always surfaces of 
one kind or another that must be finished with paint or varnish before the 
job is complete. 

Paint Terms 

Opaque paints always consist of at least a pigment and a vehicle. The 
pigment is usually a finely divided solid material that gives the paint its 
color and hiding power. The main pigment is often called the base or body 
pigment. Typical body pigments are white lead, zinc oxide, and lithopone. 
Inert pigments or extenders are solid materials that usually do not contribute 
to the color of the paint. Their legitimate use is for such purposes as 
imparting a desired characteristic to the paint film or serving as the carrier 
for an organic dye. They are sometimes used in cheap paints only to in- 
crease the bulk of the paint. Lakes, a term found on some paint labels, 
indicates organic dyes rather than naturally colored pigments. Lakes are 
not necessarily inferior products. 

The vehicle is a liquid whose primary function is to make the paint fluid 
so that it can be spread. However, in many common types of paint, the 
vehicle does more than this. For example, linseed oil and other drying oils 
oxidize when they come in contact with the air and form a tough, elastic 
film. On the other hand, in some of the new synthetic paints, such as the 
quick-drying lacquers, the vehicle evaporates completely* soon after the 
paint is applied. Raiv linseed oil, the most common vehicle in good-quality 
exterior paints, is flaxseed oil that has not been heat-treated. Boiled linseed 
oil has been heated — although not actually boiled — and certain mineral 
salts or mineral soaps have been added to it. Boiled linseed oil oxidizes 
more rapidly than raw linseed oil. Heat-bodied linseed oil has been treated 
to remove moisture and to thicken it. The treatment improves the oil from 
the standpoint of the quality of the final paint film, but a paint with a high 
proportion of heat-bodied oil may require more thinner to cause it to flow 


356 New Houses from Old 

out properly. Tung oil {China wood oil), per ilia oil, and poppy-seed oil 
are other drying oils that are sometimes used alone but are more commonly 
mixed with linseed oil. Linseed-replacement oil is a mixture of oils which 
includes some heat-bodied linseed oil and which can be used in place of 
raw linseed oil, a thinner, and a drier or boiled linseed oil and a thinner. 
Mixing oil is a mixture of drying oils, resins, driers, and other substances. 
It is used as a paint vehicle when a semigloss finish is desired. Flatting oil 
is a mixture of oils that is used to produce flat or lusterless finishes. 

Driers are compounds that speed up the oxidation of oxidizing or drying 
oils. Boiled linseed oil, already mentioned, is an oil drier, and this kind 
of drier can also be made by adding suitable compounds to other oils. 
Japan driers contain metallic soaps or salts combined with turpentine or 
other substances that are not oils. 

Thinners serve to make paints more fluid, so that they can be applied 
more easily, and also to give them greater penetrating power when they are 
applied as first coats to bare surfaces. Turpentine, which is produced from 
pine gum and wood, is the most commonly used thinner for oil paints. 
Mineral spirits is a mixture of hydrocarbons derived from petroleum that 
evaporates at about the same rate as turpentine and is widely used in place 
of it as a thinner. Turpentine substitute and mineral turps are ambiguous 
terms sometimes found on paint labels. Usually they indicate one or more 
of the liquid hydrocarbons. Benzol (benzene), also a petroleum derivative, 
is sometimes used as a paint thinner, but it evaporates too rapidly to be 
satisfactory in most cases. Denatured ethyl alcohol, often designated simply 
as alcohol, or grain alcohol is used as both vehicle and thinner in shellac 
varnish. Lacquer thinners are for use in synthetic lacquers, enamels, etc. 
They contain such compounds as toluene, butyl acetate, and butyl alcohol. 

Types of paints are often named to indicate their uses. Thus, exterior 
paints are formulated of ingredients that are resistant to exposure to sun 
and the weather. Interior paints are intended for use inside the house. The 
intended uses of roof paints, floor paints, stucco paints, etc., are obvious from 
the terms. Gloss, semigloss, and flat (or matte) refer to the appearance 
of the dry paint film; thus a high-gloss paint is shiny after it has dried, 
whereas a flat paint or varnish has a soft, lusterless appearance. 

Varnishes used to be made of fossil gums and linseed oil, but most 
modern varnishes are made of synthetic resins combined with various drying 
oils, thinners, and driers. A long-oil varnish contains at least 25 gal. of oil 
per 100 lb. of resin; a medium-oil varnish contains from 10 to 20 gal. for 
the same amount of resin; and a short-oil varnish contains 10 gal. or less. 
Spar varnish, a long-oil varnish, is formulated for exterior use. It is also 
good for interior use where water is likely to be spilled. Interior varnish, 
a medium-oil varnish, is for interior surfaces. Floor varnishes are made of 

Painting and Papering 357 

ingredients that produce the tough, flexible coating needed on floors. Rub- 
bing varnishes are designed to be rubbed down after they have dried to 
produce a surface for more varnish or for wax. Gloss and flat have the 
same meanings in connection with varnish as they have with paint. 

Enamels are essentially varnishes with pigment added. Lacquers are clear 
or colored paints in which the vehicle is a solvent or mixture of solvents 
that evaporates when the paint is applied to a surface. Most lacquers, there- 
fore, dry very rapidly. Sometimes colored lacquers are sold as enamels. 
Enamel undercoaters are paints that are made to have good hiding power 
and to produce a flat finish to which the enamel will adhere well. 

Shellac varnish is made by dissolving lac resin, the natural product of 
an insect, in denatured alcohol. The term cut in connection with shellac 
varnish refers to the weight of resin in a gallon of alcohol; thus, a 5-lb. cut 
is made by dissolving 5 lb. of the resin in 1 gal. of alcohol. Shellac varnishes 
are sold in 4-, 4^{>-, and 5-lb. cuts, which are respectively light, medium, 
and heavy bodied. Orange shellac is reddish yellow in color; white shellac 
is the same product, from which most of the color has been removed. 

Stains are coloring materials that are applied to unfinished wood to 
change its color before the wood is shellacked, varnished, or waxed. Chemi- 
cal stains contain such materials as tannic acid, chromic acid, ammonia, 
and copper sulphate, which are capable of causing chemical changes in the 
wood itself. This type of stain is seldom used in finishing house woodwork. 
Oil stains can be made of mineral pigments mixed in drying oils or tur- 
pentine or of coal-tar dyes dissolved in such solvents as naphtha. Oil stains 
for exterior use, as on shingles, are usually made of creosote oil and a 
pigment. Spirit stains are usually made of a dye dissolved in alcohol. 
Water stains usually contain a dye dissolved in water. 

Water paints include calcimine, casein paints, and resin emulsion paints. 
All are purchased in the form of paste or dry powder and the vehicle — 
water — is added just before the paint is applied. Cement-water paints or 
washes are made of Portland cement and other materials mixed in water. 
Whitewash is made of hydrated lime and other materials and is also mixed 
in water. Plastic paints are compositions that contain a high proportion of 
pigment — much of it extender pigment — to vehicle and are designed to 
produce a rough-textured rather than a smooth surface. Often the main 
ingredient is whiting, but there are many different formulas. 

Home-mixed or Ready-mixed Paints? 

The question of whether to mix the paints at home or to purchase them 
ready-mixed^ usually comes up in connection with exterior painting. The 
advantages of home mixing are that the ingredients are known and often 

358 New Houses from Old 

they cost less than an equivalent amount of ready-mixed paint. The dis- 
advantages are that home mixing is laborious, that some of the ingredients 
present in good-quality ready-mixed paints cannot be purchased in small 
quantities for home mixing, and that if the needed amount of a tinted 
home-mixed paint is underestimated, matching of the tint in a second batch 
may be difficult. 

Ready-mixed paints can be purchased with assurance if certain elementary 
precautions are observed. First, a good-quality paint is seldom the lowest- 
priced paint offered by a dealer. Neither is it necessarily the highest priced. 
Second, the label should show both the name of the manufacturer and the 
ingredients of the paint. Third, the ingredients and their proportions should 
compare favorably with a standard specification for the particular type of 
paint. The National Bureau of Standards' Paint Manual not only contains 
much useful information about many types of paints but also identifies the 
various Federal specifications that the national government uses in pur- 
chasing paint. It can be purchased at a low price from the Superintendent 
of Documents, Washington, D. C. Many reputable paint manufacturers 
specify on their labels that the paint in the can meets the requirements of 
a Federal specification. Of course, all this caution is justified only for 
rather extensive painting jobs, such as house exteriors. If you are painting 
only a single room, it is enough to purchase a paint that is the product of 
a manufacturer of good reputation. 

Mixing of paints. The implements needed for home mixing of paints are 
one or more containers, wooden paddles for stirring, scales for weighing 
dry or paste ingredients, measures for the liquid ingredients, and one or 
more strainers. The container in which the mixing is done should be about 
twice as large as the quantity of paint to be mixed at one time. The con- 
tainer should, of course, be clean. Ordinary household scales are satis- 
factory for the weighing. Pint and quart bottles or jars are satisfactory 
liquid measures for large quantities, and a kitchen measuring cup is useful 
for small quantities. Paints can be strained through muslin, but a strainer 
with a sheet-metal body and a wire-gauze bottom is more convenient to use. 

In mixing paint, the paste is put in the mixing vessel and the vehicle is 
added to it gradually. Only a small quantity of the vehicle should be added 
first. It is stirred in thoroughly, then a slightly larger quantity is added 
and stirred in, and this procedure is continued until all of the vehicle has 
been added. This process is called "breaking down the paste." If two kinds 
of pigments are to be used in the paint, they are broken down in separate 
containers and are mixed only when both are fluid enough to run freely. 
If the paint is to be tinted, the tint is added after enough vehicle has been 
added to the paste to make it fairly fluid. Mixing can be speeded up by 
pouring the paint back and forth from one container to another. 

Painting and Papering 359 

After the mixing is completed, the paint is strained into cans or other 
vessels that can be tightly covered and is allowed to stand in the covered 
containers for at least one day. Just before application, it should be stirred 
by pouring it several times from one vessel to another. If a thinner is 
needed, it is added at this time. 

Ready-mixed paint is prepared by first pouring most of the liquid at 
the top of the can into another clean container. The paste at the bottom 
of the original can is then stirred thoroughly and the liquid is gradually 
added to it. In the last stage of the process, the paint should be poured 
back and forth several times between the two containers. Many paint stores 
have machines for shaking up cans of ready-mixed paint. Ready-mixed 
paints also should be strained before application. 

Coloring of paints. Oil paints are tinted with colors ground in oil. Small 
quantities of these colors are sold in collapsible tubes, and larger quantities 
are sold in cans. The following recommendations for approximate amounts 
of colors in oil for each 100 lb. of white lead paste have been published 
by the Lead Industries Association: ivory, Y^q pt. medium chrome yellow; 
cream, ^2 pt- raw Italian sienna; buff, 1 pt. raw Italian sienna; yellow, 
Yg pt. medium chrome yellow; light gray, Ys pt- lampblack; dark gray, 
1 pt. lampblack; light tan, Yi pt- burnt Turkey umber; dark brown, IY2 g^i- 
burnt Turkey umber and 1 qt. Indian red; light blue, Y\Q P^- chemically 
pure Prussian blue; dark blue, 1 qt. chemically pure Prussian blue; light 
green, 1 qt. chromium oxide green. 

White lead is not used at all or is a minor pigment in certain dark- 
colored paints. Typical pigment formulas for dark paints are as follows: 
brick red, 100 lb. Venetian red and 80 lb. yellow ocher; maroon, 100 lb. 
Tuscan red and 2 lb. lampblack (the pigments known as Indian red and 
Tuscan red are used without other pigments to produce their respective 
shades of red) ; chocolate (very dark) brown, 100 lb. French ocher, 20 lb. 
Indian red, and 10 lb. lampblack. Many of the manufacturers of painting 
materials publish booklets in which are given additional formulas for col- 
ored paints. 

The synthetic enamels and some other special kinds of paint cannot be 
tinted with colors ground in oil. Fortunately, these paints are produced 
in such a wide range of color that tinting at home is seldom necessary. 
However, if you find it necessary to tint such a paint, follow the recom- 
mendations of the manufacturer. 

How much paint? The estimation of the quantity of paint needed for a 
particular job can seldom be exact in remodeling because of the great 
variation in the condition of surfaces to be painted. Other factors that 
affect the quantity of paint used are how much the paint is thinned, the 
weather, the method of application, and the skill of the painter. The table 


New Houses from Old 

marked Fig. 23.1, which is reprinted from the United States Department 
of Agriculture's Farmers' Bulletin, No. 1452, is recommended for use in 
estimating approximate quantities. 

Fig. 2 3. 1 

Paint Quantities 

Coating material 

Character of surface 

Surface covered by 
1 gal., square feet 

1 coat 

2 coats 

3 coats 

Smooth wood 




Rough wood 








Oil paiiil (gloss finish) 

Hard brick 




Soft brick 




Smooth cement 




Rough cement (stucco) 
"Smooth wood or wallboard 








Oil paint (flat finish) 

Hard brick 
Soft brick 





Smooth cement 




Enamel paint 

-Rough cement (stucco) 
Smooth, painted with under- 



Exterior spar varnish 

Smooth wood 




Interior finishing varnish 

Smooth wood 





Smooth wood 



Shingle stain * 

Rough wood 



Asphalt roof paint 

j Smooth 
1 Rough 


Asphalt-asbestos liquid roof 




Cold-water paint (5 lb. 

Calcimine (5 lb. powder) 

Whitewash (4 to 5 lb. hy- 
drated lime) 



1 Plaster 



* Two and one-half gallons per 1,000 shingles when dipped two-thirds their length. 

Application of Paints 

Brushes should be selected to suit the type of painting that is to be done. 
A flat brush about SY> in. wide with bristles about 4 in. long is suitable 

Painting and Papering 361 

for painting large areas such as house exteriors, but a brush not more 
than 2y> in, wide and with bristles 3 to 3% in. long is better for restricted 
areas such as window frames and interior trim. Narrower brushes down 
to small penciling brushes are needed in working on ornamented trim. 
Oval or round brushes are preferred for varnish. A good brush for exterior 
painting with oil paints will contain a mixture of coarse and fine bristles, 
but only fine bristles are used in brushes for interior enamels. Bristles of 
vegetable fiber are used in brushes for whitewash, roof paints, etc., but 
animal or nylon bristles are used in brushes designed for most other types 
of paint. A long-fibered dusting brush is usually needed to clean a surface 
before it is painted. Casein wall paints are often applied with a carpet- 
or felt-covered roller. 

The quality of a brush depends on such things as the quality of the 
bristles, the treatment they have been given to take out their natural tend- 
ency to curl, and the method by which the bristles are attached to the 
handle. These qualities are not easy to judge in the finished brush. In fact, 
it is difficult for the amateur to perceive any important difference between 
a high-priced brush and one priced at 49 cents in a chain store. As a 
general rule, brushes offered for sale by a reputable paint dealer will be 
priced in accordance with their quality. A small paint job does not often 
justify the purchase of the highest-quality brush; but the cheapest brushes 
should be shunned, as they usually shed bristles from the first moment of 
use. In most brushes, the bristles are set in rubber, and the rubber block 
is secured to the handle by a metal ferrule. Metal-ferruled brushes should 
not be used in shellac, as there may be a chemical reaction between the 
shellac and the metal that will result in discoloration of wood to which the 
shellac is applied. 

Care of brushes. Before a brush is used for the first time, dust should be 
shaken out of it. Brushes used in oil paints can be kept in raw linseed oil. 
For short periods of storage it is sufficient to place the brush flat in a 
dish or can lid and to pour oil over it, or the brush can be filled with oil 
and wrapped in waxed paper. For longer periods the brush should be 
suspended in the oil in such a way that it does not rest on its bristles. 
Brushes can be stored in turpentine instead of linseed oil, but kerosene or 
water should not be used. Shellac brushes can be stored for a short time 
in denatured alcohol but should not be so stored for long periods because 
the alcohol evaporates rapidly. When a brush has been stored in oil or 
some other liquid and is put into use again, it should be dipped twice in 
paint and the paint thoroughly brushed out on a piece of board; otherwise 
the storage liquid may produce an unsightly spot on the surface that is 
being painted. Brushes used in calcimine, cement-water paints, whitewash, 

362 New Houses from Old 

and quick-drying enamels should be washed out thoroughly after each use 
and stored dry. As a general rule, the best fluid for the washing is the solvent 
or thinner used in the paint. After a painting job is completed, brushes 
used in oil paint should be cleaned out with turpentine or benzol, then 
washed with soap and water. Finally they should be rinsed in clear water 
and allowed to dry. 

Spray guns. On many jobs a good paint sprayer in the hands of a man 
who knows how to use it will do better work in much less time than it 
would take with brushes. On rough and uneven surfaces such as masonry 
and shingles, a sprayer does a superior job because it blows paint around 
edges and into crevices that cannot be reached with a brush. However, even 
ignoring the cost of the sprayer, spray application has a number of dis- 
advantages: windows and other areas that are not to be painted must first 
be covered; the gun must be handled skillfully to avoid thick edges and 
"tears" and to assure thorough coverage; the gun, hose, and tank must 
be thoroughly cleaned each time the machine is used. Spraying of white- 
wash is much less tricky than spraying of oil paints. 

Removal of Paint 

Two considerations determine whether old paint must be removed from 
a surface that is to be repainted. Paint that is loose or very rough should 
be removed. A paint that is incompatible with the paint to be applied 
should be removed; thus, whitewash must be completely removed before 
an oil paint is put on the same surface, because the lime in whitewash has 
a deleterious effect on oil paint. 

Mechanical removers. Old paint can be removed mechanically or chemi- 
cally. If the paint is loose, the best method of removal is to brush it off 
with a wire brush. Hand brushes are adequate on most wooden surfaces, 
but cup or radial wire brushes that can be attached to electric drills are 
practically necessary on masonry surfaces. Flame softening combined with 
scraping is used on paint that cannot be completely removed by brushing. 
This is the so-called "burning off" of paint, but neither the paint nor the 
wood should be burned. An acetylene torch or a gasoline blowtorch is held 
in one hand and a scraper (painter's broad knife) in the other. The flame 
is passed over the surface at just the right rate to cause the paint to bubble 
and curl. As soon as bubbling occurs, the softened paint is removed with the 

Paint is not often removed completely with abrasive paper, but rough 
paint is smoothed with it. Sandpaper is commonly used on wood, but the 
newer waterproof papers made with garnet or synthetic abrasives have 

Painting and Papering 363 

certain advantages. They wear better, they can be wet to keep down dust, 
and they can be rinsed out when they become clogged. The coarseness of 
the paper should be suited to the type of surface. No. 1 sandpaper or its 
equivalent is suitable on exterior walls, but finer paper down to No. 0000 
is used on interior woodwork. Steel wool is useful in removing tacky 
material that will clog paper and in smoothing narrow and irregular sur- 
faces such as window frames and moldings. Sandblasting is often the only 
practical method of removing old paint from a masonry wall. This tech- 
nique requires special equipment, hence the operation is usually given to 
a contractor. 

Cliemical removers. The paste type of paint remover is the most con- 
venient for most jobs. A number of brands of these are available. The one 
you select should, of course, be used according to the manufacturer's direc- 
tions; but the usual procedure is to spread the remover over the old paint, 
allow it to remain fifteen minutes or longer, then remove the compound 
and the softened paint together by using a scraper. 

The scraper can be a putty knife or a special paint scraper. It should 
have a straight, semiblunt edge, and the corners of the blade should be 
rounded to avoid scoring or scratching the moist wood. After the paint has 
been removed, the surface should be thoroughly washed. Water is the best 
washing fluid if the active ingredient in the remover is a caustic. Benzol 
or turpentine is used if the active ingredients are volatile solvents. If you 
have much old paint to remove, do not buy a large can of paint remover 
until you have tried a small sample, because some old paints turn out to 
be very resistant to chemical removers. 

In general, liquid paint removers are less effective on tough old paint 
than the paste removers, but there are exceptions. Sometimes a paint that 
yields very slowly to a paste remover will give up at once to a liquid 
remover. The liquid removers are usually mixtures of amyl acetate, acetone, 
benzol, wood alcohol, and paraffin wax; but the formulas of different manu- 
facturers vary. The wax is added to retard evaporation of the volatile 
liquids in the mixture. It must be carefully washed off before the paint or 
varnish is applied. Use benzol or turpentine for the washing unless the 
manufacturer specifies some other chemical. 

Before the solvent paint removers were invented, lye was the standard 
chemical for removing paint, and it is still used extensively. The use of 
lye solutions is attended with some personal danger, and there is also the 
hazard that the wood under the paint will be damaged. A lye solution is 
made by dissolving lye crystals in cold water. Don't make the solution any 
stronger than is necessary to remove the paint. First try a solution made 
by dissolving about % cupful of the crystals in 1 gal. of water. If this 

364 New Houses from Old 

does not prove to be strong enough, increase the strength of the solution 
by dissolving more lye in it. Lye can also be dissolved in a moderately 
thick solution of laundry starch, and it is easier to handle in this form. 
A starch and lye paste can be thickened by adding enough whiting (obtain- 
able in paint stores) to make a stiff paste that is even easier to apply, but 
it will be somewhat less effective as a remover. Lye is applied with a cot- 
ton dish mop or a cheap brush with bristles of vegetable fiber. To avoid 
damaging the wood, scrape it off as soon as the old paint has softened, 
then wash the bare wood with plenty of clean water. If you are working 
inside the house and cannot use a large amount of water, use vinegar for 
the first rinse, then follow it with clear water. It is difficult to use lye with- 
out darkening the wood somewhat, but the color can be restored, if neces- 
sary, by using a bleach. 

Weaker alkalis that are safer than lye will remove some old paint. One 
of these is ordinary washing soda. Another is trisodium phosphate. Either 
can be used in solution, or in a thin starch paste, or in a thicker paste made 
with whiting. A suggested formula is % cup of trisodium phosphate dis- 
solved in 1 qt. of warm starch solution, to which is added enough whiting 
to make a paste of the desired consistency. The paste is applied to the sur- 
face with a putty knife or thin wood paddle, smoothed out, allowed to 
remain about an hour, and then scraped off. The scraped surface should 
be washed with clear water. 

All removers that are dissolved in water will raise the grain of the wood; 
hence, if a smooth surface is desired, the surface must be sanded before 
the new finish is put on. 

Safety in Painting 

Painting around a house is accompanied by a variety of hazards. Any 
painting operation that must be done from ladders and scaffolds should 
be planned to avoid falls. Only solidly built ladders and scaffolds should 
be used, and they should be carefully placed. 

The use of a blowtorch to soften paint carries with it the hazard of fire, 
particularly on an old house where wood is dry and where dust and in- 
flammable rubbish have accumulated inside the walls. The hazard is not 
great when the torch is used on flat surfaces such as the side of the house, 
but it is considerable when the torch is used under eaves and other places 
where there may be openings through the wood to the interior of the frame. 
The use of the torch in the interior of the house is especially dangerous. 

Rags that become soaked with linseed oil or with any of the drying oils 
can start a fire if they are thrown into a corner and neglected. Such cloths 

Painting and Papering 365 

should be disposed of by burning them or, if this is impractical, by storing 
them under water. Painters' dropcloths are special hazards if paint is 
spilled on them, because they are too valuable to throw away. These should 
not be folded up and stored away but should be hung up where air can 
circulate about them freely. Benzol and many of the other solvents used in 
paints and paint removers readily form explosive vapors if they are used 
in a closed space without adequate ventilation. 

Some of the ingredients of paint are poisonous if they are taken into 
the human system. This is especially true of lead. When you are painting 
with a paint that contains lead, it is very important not to get the paint 
into your mouth or open wounds. Wash your hands and face thoroughly 
with soap and water before eating and when you finish work for the day. 
Dust produced when a lead paint is scraped or sandpapered is especially 
hazardous. On some operations it can be kept down by dampening the 
surface and by using waterproof abrasive papers, but this method is not 
practical when old paint is removed with a wire brush. Whenever dust 
cannot be avoided, wear a respirator. Rubber gloves and safety goggles 
should always be worn when solutions of either alkalis or acids are being 

Exterior Wood 

Before a house is repainted, the old paint should be examined thoroughly 
as its condition will often reveal structural and surface defects that must 
be corrected if the new paint is to give satisfactory service. 

Blistering and peeling. This condition in an old paint coat practically 
always indicates a leak or some other source of dampness inside the wall. 
The blisters form because moisture in the wall is converted to water vapor 
faster than it can escape through the relatively impervious paint film. 
Eventually most such blisters break, whereupon the broken paint curls back. 

Moisture usually gets inside walls through leaks in the roof or eaves, 
through poorly joined corners, cracks in the siding, and poorly flashed 
windows and doors. Another possible source is water vapor from the interior 
of the house, which under certain conditions will condense on the con- 
cealed side of the sheathing and siding. This condition can be corrected 
by the installation of a vapor barrier (Chapter 25) on the room side of 
the wall. Siding or other wood in contact with the soil may carry moisture 
upward and cause blistering and peeling near the bottom of the wall. 
However, this rather common condition is not always due to a struc- 
tural defect. It may result from the application of paint to green wood or to 
wood that has not thoroughly dried out after a period of wet weather. It oc- 

366 New Houses from Old 

curs sometimes on limited areas, such as doors, when fresh paint is struck 
by a hot sun. 

Cracking and scaling. This type of defect is not easy to distinguish from 
blistering and peeling, especially when both conditions are in their latter 
stages. Paint that has failed through cracking and scaling tends to hang 
onto the wall in rather large, thick flakes, although under certain conditions 
small flakes are formed. Cracking and scaling are usually due to too much 
paint on the house. Either paint has been applied without adequate thin- 
ning and brushing, thus forming a film that was too thick, or a thick coat 
has been built up in a number of successive paintings. They can also be 
caused by the application of inferior paint, and by the application of fresh 
paint over paint that has become hard and brittle. The remedy for cracking 
and scaling is to remove the old paint completely before repainting. 

Stains. Pitchy knots and resinous streaks will discolor paint that has 
been applied over them and often cause it to flake off. Such spots are easily 
discovered before repainting is started. Any remaining paint and any beads 
of resin on them should be scraped off. Painters sometimes "kill" the pitch 
and resin by heating the areas with a blowtorch. Another method is to 
put a coat of orange shellac on them. The best method, however, is to 
paint them with a primer made by mixing 2 lb. of aluminum powder in 
1 gal. of good-quality spar varnish. Corroding iron and steel often cause 
rust-colored stains on paint, and copper screens and other copper fixtures 
cause green stains. The remedy is to paint or varnish the metal so that the 
new paint will not be stained. (See Painting of Metal later in this chap- 
ter.) In extremely humid climates, mildew sometimes grows on oil paints, 
producing black stains. Old paint that is mildewed should be scrubbed 
before repainting with a solution made by dissolving 1 lb. of trisodium 
phosphate in 1 gal. of water. The mildewed areas are scrubbed with the 
solution and are then rinsed with clear water. Various fungicides that will 
prevent the growth of mildew are available for mixing with the paint before 

Checking, alligatoring, and ivrinkling. Fine cracks in the top layers of 
a paint coat are called checking. If the checking is severe, it produces the 
effect called alligatoring, in which there are numerous small areas of paint 
separated from one another by distinct cracks. In checking and alligatoring, 
the cracks do not extend through to the bare wood at first. Eventually, 
however, the paint in the coat next to the wood will erode under the cracks; 
but even at this stage a checked or alligatored surface can easily be distin- 
guished from a cracked and scaled surface. Checking and alligatoring are 
caused by the use of a paint in the top coat or coats that is not sufficiently 

Painting and Papering 367 

elastic or by the application of this coat before underlying coats have 
become dry. 

Too much elasticity in the top coat will cause wrinkling, a condition 
marked by folded but unbroken ridges and lines. Wrinkling occurs when 
the top coat of paint has not been brushed out well. It is not necessary to 
strip off checked, alligatored, or wrinkled paint before repainting if the 
surface can be made smooth enough without doing so. Often only wire- 
brushing and sanding are necessary. 

Erosion and chalking off. Some old paints appear to have been partially 
washed off by the rain. The paint is streaked in broad patches, some areas 
being considerably lighter and thinner than others. This condition (erosion) 
comes from too little drying oil in the final coat. 

A paint surface that dusts off slightly when rubbed is said to be "chalking 
off." Chalking also is due to loosening of the pigment particles by failure 
of the oil in the outer layer of paint. Slow chalking is advantageous, since 
it tends to keep the paint clean. Eroded and chalky oil paints should be 
brushed or sanded sufficiently to produce a smooth, firm surface, but it is 
not usually necessary to remove them. 

Defects in the wood itself. Paint will not adhere to decayed wood, nor 
can it be counted on to disguise cracks and holes. Rotted boards should be 
replaced before painting is commenced. If the remainder of the wall does 
not require a priming coat of paint, the new wood should be primed and 
the paint allowed to dry before the main painting operation is started. 

Putty is the best material for filling small holes and cracks. If all the 
paint is removed from the wood, putty is applied after the house exterior 
has been painted with the priming coat; but if the wood is not bare and 
therefore does not require a priming coat, cracks and holes are puttied 
before the first coat of new paint. In this case, the areas to be puttied are 
first painted with raw linseed oil to prevent the wood's drawing the oil out 
of the putty. The putty is pushed into the hole or crack with some force 
in order to completely fill it, then the surface is smoothed with the putty 
knife or sandpaper. 

Hoiv many coats? If the old paint is left on, two coats of new paint over 
it should be all that are necessary. However, bare spots should be painted 
with a priming coat and this coat allowed to dry before the main painting 
is started. If the old paint has been removed or if the house has been 
re-sided, a priming coat should be applied all over; and you must also 
decide whether you want a two-coat or a three-coat job. At one time it was 
thought that three coats were absolutely necessary on new wood. The three- 
coat system is still followed by many house painters who consider that 
the two-coat system is a mark of cheap work. However, recent improve- 

368 New Houses from Old 

ments in exterior paints, particularly in their opacity, have made it pos- 
sible to do two-coat work which is not easily distinguished from three-coat 
work and which often proves as durable. 

Paint formulas. Suggested paint formulas for white lead exterior paints 
to be mixed at home and applied to clapboards or similar wood siding 
are as follows: 

For Previously Painted Wood 

First Coat Second Coat 

White lead soft paste 100 lb. 100 lb. 

Raw linseed oil 2 gal. 3 gal. 

Turpentine 2 gal. 1 pt. 

Liquid drier 1 pt. 1 pt. 

To make about 73/8 gal. 6^8 gal. 

For New Wood (Three-coat System) 

Priming Coat Second Coat Third Coat 

White lead soft paste.. 100 lb. 100 lb. 100 lb. 

Raw linseed oil 4 gal. 1 14 gal. 3 gal. 

Turpentine 2 gal. 1 H gal. 1 pt. 

Liquid drier 1 pt. 1 pt. 1 pt. 

To make about 93^8 gal- 63^ gal. 6^8 gal. 

' For Neiv Wood {Two-coat System) 

First Coat Second Coat 

White lead soft paste 100 lb. 100 lb. 

Raw linseed oil 11-^ gal. 2% gal. 

Exterior spar varnish ^ gal. 

Turpentine 3^ gal. 3 pt. 

Liquid drier 1 pt. 1 pt. 

Raw umber in oil 3^ pt. 

To make about 6 gal. 63^8 gal. 

Although it is not usually economical or practical to attempt to include 
a variety of pigments in a home-mixed paint, zinc oxide is often added as 
a second pigment for the finish coat. This pigment produces a harder paint 
film that is more resistant to chalking off. The fraction of zinc oxide pig- 
ment in a white lead and zinc oxide home-mixed paint should not exceed 
20 per cent. The proportioning is done by weight, never by measure, since 
zinc oxide is far more bulky than lead. To produce a paint that contains 
15 per cent zinc oxide and 85 per cent white lead on the basis of dry pig- 
ments, 17 lb. of zinc oxide paste and 83 lb. of white lead paste are used; 
for 20 per cent zinc oxide and 80 per cent white lead the amounts are 
22 lb. of zinc oxide paste and 78 lb. of white lead paste. 

Painting and Papering 369 

Many ready-mixed exterior paints now on the market contain mixtures 
of such pigments as white lead, leaded zinc oxide, titanium dioxide, and 
magnesium silicate. The last mentioned is an inert pigment or transparent 
extender. Lithopone, long considered an unsuitable pigment for exterior 
paints because it turned gray under long exposure to sunlight, is being 
used again in some exterior paints. Recently developed special grades of 
it are said not to be subject to this defect. Zinc sulphide and leaded zinc 
oxide are usually combined with lithopone in exterior paints. The vehicles, 
also, are often mixtures. Raw linseed oil is often mixed with bodied (thick- 
ened) linseed oil, tung oil, and other drying oils. Synthetic resins are also 
being used, especially in the modern "enamelized" paints. Some of these 
new ingredients represent real improvements in paints. There is no doubt, 
for example, that titanium dioxide has more hiding power than older, 
standard pigments, and it gives other desirable qualities to the paint film. 
Others were born out of wartime material shortages and may not have 
enduring value. 

Applying the paint. The painting should be started at the highest point 
of the wall, and eaves, cornices, and gable ends should be painted before 
the siding. A good brushing technique is to spread the brushful of paint 
quickly along the board, using a long vigorous stroke, then to paint cross- 
wise on the board with short strokes, and finally to "lay off" by passing 
the empty brush lengthwise on the board over the paint. The next stroke 
with a full brush should begin 2 in. or so beyond the strip that has just 
been painted. After the brush has been partly emptied, the gap is then 
filled in smoothly. Exterior paint should be well brushed out. 

When painting is halted for lunch or at the end of the day, the stop 
should be made at some such place as a window frame. Windows, especially 
second-story windows, should be painted before the scaffolding or extension 
ladders are taken down, in spite of the fact that this requires a change of 
brushes. First-story windows and doors that can be reached with a short 
ladder can be painted without inconvenience after the siding is finished. 

Each coat should be allowed to dry before the next coat is applied. The 
amount of time needed for adequate drying depends on the drying qualities 
of the paint and on the weather. The paint should become dry enough so 
that it will not cause sandpaper to "gum up" quickly, but too long an 
interval should not intervene between coats. Generally, the least time re- 
quired is two days, and the longest period necessary under poor drying 
conditions is ten days. 

Painting wood shingles. Wood shingles installed as siding can be left 
untreated, stained with shingle stains, or painted with oil paints. Attractive, 

370 New Houses from Old 

although quite different, effects can be achieved by any of these methods, 
but the modern trend is toward the use of paint. 

Whether shingles on an old house can be successfully painted depends 
on the previous treatment of the shingles. If they have not been stained, 
good results can be obtained by painting even though the shingles are con- 
siderably weathered. If they have been stained, it will be necessary to find 
out whether the old stain will "bleed" through paint. Select a few shingles 
on which the stain is unfaded and fairly uniform and paint them with a 
sample of white paint that is the same or similar to the paint that you 
wish to use on the house. If the stain is not picked up in the fresh paint 
and does not discolor it in the course of a week or so, it will be safe to 
assume that it will give no trouble. If it does bleed into the paint, give up 
the idea of painting the shingles. Shingles that have been painted rather 
than stained, of course, present no such problem. 

The whiteness of a good oil paint cannot be achieved with shingle stains, 
but a very attractive exterior can be obtained with colored stains. Shingle 
stains do not have the hiding power of paints, consequently it is not prac- 
tical to change shingles that have been stained brown or another dark color 
to a lighter color by using a stain. Ready-mixed stains are inexpensive and 
their use is recommended, but shingle stains can be mixed at home. A sug- 
gested basic formula is 4 gal. raw linseed oil, 2 gal. creosote oil, 1 gal. 
Japan drier. Soft paste pigments — that is, pigments ground in oil- — can be 
added to this formula. The required amount of pigment depends on the 
kind of pigment and the amount of color that are desired, but 20 lb. for 
7 gal. of vehicle is an average amount. Another formula that does not 
contain creosote oil and therefore can be given a light tint is 2 gal. boiled 
linseed oil, 1 gal. turpentine, and the pigment. This formula can be thinned 
further, if necessary, with turpentine. 

The most convenient method of staining shingles is to apply the stain 
before the shingles are applied. The stain is placed in a keg or some other 
suitable container, and a wooden trough is arranged to drain into it. The 
shingles are dipped individually. The entire shingle need not be stained 
but only the portion that will be exposed after the shingle is in place on 
the wall. After dipping, the shingles are stood in the trough to drain for a 
few minutes, then are stacked to dry. Shingles already in place on a wall 
can be stained by spraying or by brushing. 

Masonry Walls 

Paints in which linseed oil or some other drying oil is the vehicle are 
suitable for dry masonry but are quite unsuitable for walls that contain 

Painting and Papering 371 

moisture. On the other hand, whitewash, cement-water paints, resin emulsion 
paints, and rubber paints are not much affected by moisture. The texture 
of the surface is also an important consideration. Masonry walls with a 
coarse texture, such as cinder-block walls, are best painted with a paint 
such as whitewash in which water is the vehicle, since these paints can be 
applied with coarse brushes and thoroughly scrubbed into the surface. 
Resin emulsion paints give a more attractive finish to close-textured surfaces. 

Whitewash. Whitewash that is properly mixed and applied is a very satis- 
factory finish for masonry walls, but like other paints, it must be put on a 
clean, firm surface if it is to remain attached for a reasonable length of 
time. Preparation of the surface is often slighted before whitewashing, and 
this factor has tended to give this type of paint the reputation of a short life. 

An unpainted surface should be thoroughly cleaned by brushing. An 
electric drill equipped with a radial-type wire brush is a convenient tool 
in this operation, but the brushing can be done by hand with wire or coarse 
fiber brushes. It is especially important to remove all such substances as 
grease, soil, and scaly old whitewash. In some cases, thorough cleaning 
requires the use of a weak acid solution, such as vinegar or muriatic (dilute 
hydrochloric) acid. The wall should be thoroughly washed with water after 
using acid. Surfaces that have been painted with an oil paint require 
cleaning by sandblasting. Cracks and holes should be filled (Chapter 14). 

The National Lime Association's Bulletin No. 304-£ contains a number 
of tested formulas for whitewash, from which the following formula has 
been selected: 

Casein, 5 lb.; trisodium phosphate, 3 lb.; formaldehyde, 3 pt.; lime paste,* 
8 gal. Soak the casein in about 2 gal. of water until thoroughly softened (about 
two hours). Dissolve the trisodium phosphate in 1 gal. of water; add this solution 
to the casein and allow the mixture to dissolve. Dissolve the formaldehyde in 3 
gal. of water. When the lime paste and the casein solution are thoroughly cool, 
slowly add the casein solution to the lime, stirring constantly. Just before using, 
slowly add. the formaldehyde solution to the batch, stirring constantly and vigor- 
ously. Care must be taken not to add the formaldehyde too rapidly, as this may 
cause the casein to form a jellylike mass, thus spoiling the batch. Do not make 
up more of this formula than can be used in one day, as it may deteriorate. This 
formula is recommended highly for most uses, as the coating is white, does not 
rub or chalk, and is quite weather resistant. 

Colored whitewash is sometimes needed in remodeling when a special 
color scheme is wanted or when a dark, unattractive wall is to be coated 

* Either quicklime or liydrated lime can be used for the preparation of the lime paste. 
For the best results, the manufacturer's directions should be followed in making this paste 
by slaking quicklime or by soaking hydrated lime. Approximately 8 gal. of stiff lime paste 
are produced by slaking 25 lb. of quicklime with 10 gal. of water or by soaking 50 lb. 
of hydrated lime in 6 gal. of water. 

372 New Houses from Old 

and it is desirable to avoid a spotty appearance when the whitewash begins 
to fail. The National Lime Association has published in the bulletin just 
mentioned the following information on colors: 

There are three factors to be considered in connection with colors used to 
tint whitewash and cold-water paints; first, that they shall not react chemically 
with the lime; second, that they shall be insoluble in water; and third, that the 
mixing shall be as nearly perfect as possible. 

The following pigments can be purchased as dry powders. The amount of pig- 
ment necessary will depend on the shade of color desired. To be sure that the 
desired shade will be obtained, it is always advisable to prepare a small sample 
and allow it to dry before mixing any considerable quantity. 

Blacks — Magnetic black oxide of iron is safe. Ivory black and carbon black 
are nonreactive with lime, but they are lacking in strength. 

Blues — Ultramarine and cobalt blue are the only blues recommended. 

Browns — Pure precipitated brown oxide of iron or mixtures of the magnetic 
black oxide of iron with Turkey or Indian red are highly recommended. Sienna 
and Turkey umber are lacking in strength but may give good results. 

Greens — Chromium oxide (opaque) and chromium oxide (hydrated) are rec- 
ommended. These are known as chromium or chrome oxide greens and should 
not be confused with mixtures of chrome yellow and Prussian blue, known as 
chrome greens, which are not lime proof. 

Reds — Indian red made from pure ferric oxide is highly recommended. Madder 
lake and toluidine vermilion are alkali fast but have little strength and are fugi- 
tive to light. 

Violets — Cobalt violet and mixtures of the reds, whites, and blues suggested 
are satisfactory. 

Whites — Lime itself is satisfactory. Lithopone and ground marble also are used 
as white pigments. 

Yellows — Those made by using precipitated hydrated iron oxides are most satis- 
factory. Ochre, raw sienna, lemon cadmium, orange cadmium, and golden cad- 
mium are less suitable, as they may change in shade, lack strength, or be af- 
fected by light. Chrome yellow is not lime proof. 

The whitewash should be passed through a fine wire screen to remove 
lumps. Application can be by sprayer or by brush. A power-driven farm or 
garden sprayer equipped with a Bordeaux-mixture nozzle is an excellent 
tool for the spraying. Whitewash should not be applied with ordinary paint- 
brushes, because the lime attacks the animal bristles. Special whitewash 
brushes about 7 in. wide with bristles about 3% in. long are manufactured, 
but roof brushes, which are stiffer and heavier, work somewhat better on 
coarse surfaces. 

Before the whitewash is applied, the masonry should be moistened with 
water. The whitewash should not be applied too thickly. It does not matter 
if the surface of the wall is visible through the wet whitewash, for if the 
whitewash has been correctly mixed and is applied all over the surface, the 
surface will be hidden when the material dries. On many walls one coat 

Painting and Papering 373 

of whitewash is enough; but when it is needed, a second coat can be 
applied after the first has become thoroughly dry, usually in one or two 

Cement-water paints. When cement-water paints are correctly mixed and 
applied, they form weather-resistant coatings of considerable durability. 
Because they fill up pores and small cracks, they increase the water resist- 
ance of the wall and for this reason are sometimes used as dampproofing 
compounds. Surface preparation is essentially the same as for whitewash. 
Old cement-water paint and whitewash should be brushed but need not be 
completely removed. However, oil paints must be completely removed. 
Cement-water paints can be applied over areas that have been freshly re- 
paired with mortar. 

Cement-water paints can be prepared by home mixing. A suggested for- 
mula is 2 parts white Portland cement and 1 part clean sand, measured 
by volume. The fineness of the sand should be such that all of it will pass 
through a wire sieve with 20 meshes per linear in. This formula is suitable 
for both coats, but if a smoother finish is wanted, the sand can be omitted 
in the finisji coat and the paint made of 70 parts white Portland cement 
and 30 parts hydrated lime, measured by volume. The dry ingredients are 
mixed with enough water to give the paint the consistency of heavy cream. 
The mixture should be applied to the wall soon after it is mixed. Another 
formula suggested by Robert S. Boynton of the National Lime Association 
is equal weights of white Portland cement and hydrated lime, equivalent 
to 2 parts hydrated lime and 1 part white Portland cement by volume. 

Paints made by these formulas can be colored with the pigments recom- 
mended above for whitewash. 

Cement-water paints and the cement-iime-water paint just described are 
applied most effectively on large areas with roofing brushes and on re- 
stricted areas with fender brushes. The latter are sold at automobile-supply 
stores for cleaning the underside of automobile fenders. Floor scrub brushes 
can be used but are not so effective as brushes with longer bristles. The 
wall is dampened before the paint is applied. On coarse-textured surfaces, 
the paint should literally be scrubbed in. One coat of cement-lime-water 
paint will cover even a red-brick wall, but two coats of cement-water paint 
are necessary on many v/alls. The first coat should be given time to set — 
about two days — before the second coat is applied. Both coats should be 
damp-cured. This is done by spraying the wall with a fine spray as soon 
as the paint has set hard enough not to wash off, usually six to twelve 
hours, then by repeating the spraying as often as necessary to keep the 
wall slightly damp for at least forty-eight hours. If damp-curing is omitted, 
the cement will fail to set and the paint will dust off. 

374 New Houses from Old 

Oil paints. Oil paints are used most frequently on old brick walls, 
although they can be employed on any masonry wall that is thoroughly 
dry and protected from moisture. Before applying an oil paint, it is very 
important to make sure that door and window openings and other places 
where water might enter the wall are properly flashed. 

The surface of masonry walls should be cleaned in the same way as for 
whitewash or for a cement-water paint. Whitewash should be removed, but 
old oil paint or cement-water paint that is adhering firmly need not be 
removed. If there are cracks and holes in the wall that must be repaired 
with fresh mortar, these create a special problem, as an oil paint cannot 
be applied over fresh mortar. The best procedure in such a case is to 
repair the wall, then to allow the mortar to cure for at least three months. 

Ready-mixed oil paints that have been specially formulated for masonry 
walls are recommended. They should be thinned and applied according to 
manufacturers' directions. Formulas and directions for home-mixed white 
lead and oil paints for masonry have been published by the Lead Industries 
Association, 420 Lexington Avenue, New York City. 

The technique of applying oil paints to masonry is basicaUy the same 
as that of applying them to wood. The same precautions should be taken 
against the weather as have been described above for the painting of wood. 
A masonry wall should be given plenty of time to warm up after a cold 
night, otherwise there may be trouble with moisture condensing on its 

Resin emulsion paints. This type of paint contains drying oils that have 
been extended with synthetic resins. The incorporation of an emulsifying 
agent makes it possible to mix the paints with water. They may be applied 
to either dry or damp masonry. The surface is prepared for them in the 
same way as has been described for whitewash, with the exception that any 
previous coating, whether it is whitewash, a cement-water paint, or an oil 
paint, need not be removed if it is adhering firmly. A coarse-textured wall 
should be given a preliminary coating of a cement-water paint that con- 
tains sand, but fine-textured walls need no special first coat. 

This type of paint cannot be prepared at home. It is usually purchased 
in paste form and should be thinned with water according to the directions 
on the package. It can be applied by brushing or by spraying. Unless the 
manufacturer's directions are to the contrary, the wall should be dampened 
before the paint is applied. However, dampening of the paint after it has 
been applied is not necessary. An interval of about twelve hours is usually 
all the time that is necessary between coats. 

Resin emulsion paints are also excellent for the refinishing of cement- 
asbestos shingles that have turned gray or become streaked. 

Painting and Papering 375 

Painting Of Stucco 

Stucco can be painted with the same types of paint and by essentially 
the same techniques as have been described for masonry surfaces. However, 
cement-water paint is recommended because it is easy to apply to stucco 
and it will fill fine cracks that have developed in the stucco and thus will 
increase its resistance to water. 

The stucco should first be cleaned. If it is stained or soiled with soot, 
washing with a dilute solution of hydrochloric acid (muriatic acid) fol- 
lowed by thorough rinsing with clean water is the most effective method. 
Road dust and similar dirt can usually be removed without acid. After 
the wall has been washed, holes and cracks (except fine hair cracks) should 
be repaired as directed in Chapter 19. Cement-water paint can be applied 
as soon as the mortar in the repaired spots has set. If the color of the 
paint that is to be applied is greatly different from the color of the mortar, 
it is a good idea to give the repaired areas a preliminary coat about two 
days before the wall is painted. 

The paint is applied in the same way as to a rough-textured masonry 
wall. The wall is dampened beforehand, but there should be no free water 
standing in hollows in the surface when painting is commenced. Each coat 
of cement-water paint should be carefully damp-cured (page 373). 

Painting of Metal 

Corrosion-resistant metals such as copper, zinc, aluminum, and cast iron 
do not require paint for protection from corrosion, but it is sometimes 
desirable to paint them to improve their appearance. Good-quality gal- 
vanized metal does not need paint for protection until the zinc coating 
begins to deteriorate. On the other hand, iron or steel with a thin pro- 
tective coating, such as terneplate, will corrode rapidly under weather ex- 
posure unless it is kept painted. 

The painting of a copper roof is not recommended, as the metal will of 
itself eventually take on an attractive green color. Copper gutters and down- 
spouts can be painted by sanding them lightly, then applying an aluminum 
paint as a priming coat, and covering this with one or two coats of exterior 
house paint well brushed out. Copper or steel screens can be prevented 
from staining the paint below them by applying to them a thin coat of 
spar varnish or, if a colored finish is desired, one or two coats of a thin 

New galvanized metal will not hold paint unless it has been treated to etch 

376 New Houses from Old 

the zinc surface. Some, but not all, of the galvanized metal now sold has 
been etched at the factory. An economical way of etching galvanized metal 
that has not been so treated is to leave it exposed to the weather and un- 
painted for at least six months. New metal can be prepared for immediate 
painting by washing it with a zinc phosphate or phosphate-chromate solu- 
tion, obtainable under various brand names at paint stores. Still another and 
perhaps better method is to use a zinc dust-zinc oxide priming paint. 
After either of these treatments, gutters and downspouts can be painted with 
one or two coats of exterior house paint well brushed out. 

Roofs can be finished with a zinc paint or with commercially prepared 
roofing paints. Old galvanized metal that has been exposed to the weather 
does not require etching before painting, but rusty spots should be thor- 
oughly wire-brushed to remove all scale and to expose as much fresh metal 
as possible. The spots should then be coated with a zinc dust-zinc oxide 
priming paint. Galvanized metal downspouts that have corroded through 
from the inside are not worth painting, but a few more years of service can 
often be gotten from gutters that have "pinholed through" by painting the 
inside with an asphalt paint. 

New terneplate should be painted as soon as possible after it is installed. 
Metal of this kind is usually supplied with a priming coat already applied. 
Any good-quality roofing paint can be brushed on over this coat. 

The repainting of old terneplate and, in fact, any other iron or steel about 
the house that has been exposed to the weather can be carried out in the 
following way. The surface is first wire-brushed to remove all rust and scale. 
Pitted areas can be sanded to remove rust. If any grease or oil is present, the 
surface is washed with benzol. A rust-inhibiting priming paint is then 
brushed on. Pitted areas should have a preliminary coating of the primer, 
which is allowed to dry before the entire surface is painted. 

There are many good metal primers. The zinc dust-zinc oxide paint al- 
ready mentioned is one. Probably the most commonly used one is red oxide 
of lead. Other good pigments are basic red chromate (also sold as scarlet 
red chromate), chrome red, chrome orange, and blue lead. The last pigment 
produces an attractive slate color. Finish coats may contain the same pig- 
ment as the priming coat, or any good exterior oil paint may be used. Other 
paints suitable for the finish coat if a silvery finish is desired are zinc paints 
and aluminum paints. A good aluminum paint for metal can be made by 
mixing 2 lb. of aluminum powder in 1 gal. of spar varnish. 

The main problem in connection with painting radiators is the preliminary 
cleaning. Dust can be removed from the columns in the interior of the 
radiator with a special radiator brush or by pulling rags through the rad- 
iator. The parts that are exposed to view should be wire-brushed to remove 
loose paint and scale. If the old paint is very rough, it can be removed 

Painting and Papering 377 

completely with paint remover. Radiators can be painted with any good oil 
paint that has been prepared for interior use. The paint should be well 
brushed out. It is not advisable to paint radiators with aluminum paint, 
as this material reduces somewhat the emission of radiant heat. However, if 
the radiator has a coat of firmly adhering aluminum paint, it is not neces- 
sary to remove it. Painting over it with an interior paint will nullify the 
effect of the aluminum coating. 

Plating with chromium or some other suitable metal is the best way of 
refinishing worn interior hardware. The hardware must, of course, be re- 
moved and taken to a plating works. Oil paints and varnishes should not 
be used on doorknobs, as they tend to remain slightly sticky and to collect 
dirt. Synthetic lacquers are free of this fault, but they will wear off hardware 
that is handled often. 

Painting of Plaster 

An old plaster wall that is to be painted should be repaired and cleaned. 
If the wall is papered, the paper should be soaked off. Cracks and holes 
should be filled (Chapter 21). After the repaired areas have hardened, the 
entire wall should be rubbed with fine sandpaper or steel wool, and finally 
the wall should be thoroughly dusted. 

Oil paints are desirable on plastered walls in bathrooms and kitchens, as 
they produce a surface that can be washed without causing rapid deteriora- 
tion. Special precautions are necessary to prevent the eventual flaking off 
of this type of paint. The plaster should be perfectly dry, and it should not 
contain free alkali. Plaster that has been on a wall for several months or 
years should be fairly free of alkali; but if the plaster dried out partially 
before it hardened, there may be alkali present. Old plaster that contains 
soft and dusty areas usually will not hold an oil paint unless it is specially 
treated to neutralize the alkali. 

An old, standard treatment for alkali in plastered walls was to brush the 
plaster with a solution of zinc sulphate in water. The value of this treatment 
has been questioned. A more reliable method is to allow the wall, if it is 
new, or the repaired areas, if it is old, to become thoroughly dry and hard. 
After light sanding and dusting, the wall is sized by painting it with a 
medium-oil varnish thinned with turpentine or mineral spirits at the rate 
of 1 or 2 qt. of thinner to 1 gal. of varnish. After the varnish has dried, one 
coat of an interior oil paint that contains a high proportion of boiled linseed 
oil can be applied. After this coat has dried, the wall can be painted with 
a finish coat of any good interior oil paint. There are also a number of ready- 
mixed plaster primers on the market, some of which are formulated to size 
the plaster and to hide the surface at the same time. Such a primer made 

378 New Houses from Old 

by a reputable manufacturer and applied according to the directions on the 
package should give satisfactory results. 

Water paints can be used without danger of peeling on both new and 
old plastered walls provided only that the plaster is clean. They can even 
be applied to damp walls; and the plaster will dry out through them. 

Calcimine is an old standard water paint for plastered walls. Old calci- 
mines had the fault of rubbing oif, but this defect has been largely corrected 
in modern preparations. The chief disadvantage of calcimine is that a calci- 
mined wall will not stand washing. 

The wall should be repaired, if necessary, and all dirt thoroughly cleaned 
off. If it has been calcimined previously, the old calcimine should be washed 
off with a sponge and warm water. The wall is allowed to dry and then is 
treated with a glue size. The manufacturer's directions for mixing should 
be followed. The paint is applied with a wide calcimine brush. The brushing 
must be done carefully in order to distribute the calcimine evenly, otherwise 
thick areas will appear darker when dry than thin areas. It is best to work 
in strips narrow enough so that the second strip can be started before the 
edge of the first strip has dried. Every effort should be made to completely 
cover the surface with one coat. 

Casein paints of the types that are sold in paste form to be mixed with 
water at home are excellent for use on both old and new plaster. They have 
good hiding power, consequently one coat is usually enough, although two 
coats may be needed if the old plaster is stained or if it is darker than the 
paint. These paints will tolerate an occasional washing after the paint and 
the plaster have become thoroughly dry. No special preparation of the 
plaster is needed other than patching and cleaning. The paint is easily 
applied with either a brush or a carpet-covered roller. 

Plywood Walls 

Plywood that is surfaced with a veneer of fine wood, such as mahogany, 
oak, or walnut, is usually given a natural finish that enhances the beauty 
of the wood. A typical treatment for a close-grained wood is to sand the 
surface of the panels lightly with No. 00 or No. 000 sandpaper, then to 
apply two coats of a clear lacquer or interior varnish. Each of these coats 
should be rubbed with fine steel wool. The second coat is then waxed with 
a white wax. Open-grained woods, such as oak, are sanded lightly with 
No. 00 sandpaper, then filled with a wood filler. After the filler is dry, it 
is sanded lightly and dusted off. The panel is then finished as above. Pre- 
finished plywood panels in fine woods can also be purchased. 

Common grades of plywood have rather vivid grain patterns that are 

Painting and Papering 379 

unattractive in some rooms unless they are subdued. The Douglas Fir Ply- 
wood Association recommends the following procedure for natural stain 
finishes that subdue the grain pattern somewhat but do not completely 
hide it. 

These finishes are accomplished by a procedure that is basically as follows: 

1. A coat of interior white undercoater, preferably thinned as follows: 6 lb. of 
flat undercoat, 3V2 <It- of pure turpentine, and 1 pt. of linseed oil. When dry, 
sand lightly with No. 000 sandpaper. 

2. One coat of white shellac, steel-wooled when dry with No. 1 wool. (This 
shellac coat may be omitted when greater penetration by the color coat is desired. 
This would give a more vivid color.) 

3. One coat of the desired color in blending oils, applied thinly and wiped or 
dry-brushed to the proper color tone. 

4. One coat of flat varnish. For best effect the varnish coat should be steel- 

A limitless variety of effects can be secured by changing the color coat. 

An inexpensive but attractive finish can be obtained with a single coat of in- 
terior white undercoater pigmented to the desired tint and thinned sufficiently so 
that the figure of the wood will show through. A second coat of clear shellac or 
varnish will add to the durability of this finish and will give a deep luster. 

To obtain a very smooth enameled finish on plywood, it is necessary to 
cover the wood with some such material as unbleached muslin. Nail holes 
and joints are first filled with Swedish putty or with a good ready-mixed 
crack filler. The wood is then primed with one coat of a thinned flat oil 
paint. After the paint has dried, the muslin is applied to the wall with paste 
in essentially the same way that wallpaper is hung on a plastered wall. The 
only difference is that the joints between strips are overlapped about 1 in. 
and then are cut flush with a razor blade. After the paste has dried, the 
muslin is given one coat of a glue size. Any good interior enamel can then 
be applied. 

In kitchens and playrooms, the broad grain pattern of ordinary interior 
plywood is not objectionable, hence in such rooms plywood panels are 
often given no other treatment than a coat of white shellac and a coat of flat 
drying varnish. A liquid wood sealer can be used in place of the shellac. 
Plywood can also be stained. 

Fiber Wallboards 

Most fiberboards can be satisfactorily painted with calcimine or casein- 
water paints and also with oil paints and enamels. Casein paints can be 
applied directly without any special preparation of the surface, but the sur- 
face should first be sized with a thinned varnish if calcimine is to be used. 

380 New Houses from Old 

A varnish size is usually a satisfactory preparation for insulation board 
that is to be covered with a flat oil paint or an enamel. 

In some areas of the house it is necessary only to change the light color 
of the board. The best type of stain for fiberboard is made by dissolving 
^2 lb. of glue in 1 gal. of boiling water. A dry pigment is iriade into a paste 
by adding water to it, and the paste is then stirred into the hot glue mixture. 
Many fiber wallboards are manufactured with one surface already finished 
with a paint, or a stain, or a tinted paper. 

Wood Trim 

Interior wood can be given a natural finish that shows the grain of the 
wood, or it can be painted with an opaque paint. Which type of finish 
should be selected depends on the quality of wood in the trim and on your 
own taste. 

Clear or natural finishes. Complete removal of paint is necessary to re- 
store old trim to a clear finish. Paint removers will not remove stains that 
have penetrated the wood, nor will sanding do so unless much of the surface 
is cut off, but most stains can be bleached out. Oxalic acid is used extensively 
as a bleach; but its use is rather hazardous, as it is a poison. Furthermore, 
it is not very effective on some stains. A saturated solution, made by adding 
oxalic acid crystals to hot water until no more will dissolve, is more effective 
than a weaker solution. The solution is brushed on the wood liberally and 
can be left on for a few minutes or for a number of hours, depending on 
how stubborn the stain proves to be. The surface is then washed liberally 
with water and finally is sanded. Since this solution contains water, it will 
raise the grain and roughen the wood. This fault can be circumvented by 
dissolving the oxalic acid in denatured alcohol that is, of course, not heated. 

A bleach that works on some woods can be made by dissolving 1 lb. or 
less of sodium hyposulphite (photographers' "hypo") in 1 gal. of water. 
A third method — and this is the most effective of all — uses two solutions. 
The first solution is made by dissolving 1 oz. of potassium permanganate 
(obtainable at drugstores) in 1 gal. of water. The second solution is made by 
dissolving 3 or 4 oz. of sodium bisulphite in 1 gal. of water. The first solu- 
tion is brushed liberally on the wood; then before it dries, the second solu- 
tion is brushed over it. The applications can be repeated if the wood is not 
whitened sufficiently the first time. Finally, the wood is thoroughly washed 
with clean water. 

There are a number of commercial bleaches, some of them patented, or 
the market that are very effective. If you use one of these, follow the manu- 
facturer's directions. 

Painting and Papering 381 

After the wood is bleached, holes and cracks should be filled with a crack 
filler, such as plastic wood or some other prepared crack filler. After holes 
have been filled, the wood should be sanded smooth with No. 000 sandpaper 
or its equivalent in some other abrasive paper. 

If a very light finish is desired — the so-called blond or platinum finish — a 
coat of bleaching lacquer is applied to the bleached wood. This coat is not 
sanded but is covered as soon as it has dried with one or two coats of white 
shellac. Each coat of the shellac is sanded with No. 0000 sandpaper. A 
clear, flat-drying lacquer is then applied as the final coat. 

Woods with open pores, such as oak, need a paste wood filler applied 
after the bleaching lacquer. The paste is spread on the wood by brushing it 
across the grain. As soon as the filler has dried enough so that it will remain 
in the pores of the wood but before it has become "tacky," the excess is 
wiped off with a wad of burlap or other coarse cloth rubbed crosswise of 
the grain. After the filler has dried overnight or longer, the surface should 
be sanded lengthwise of the grain of the wood with No. 000 sandpaper and 
thoroughly dusted before the shellac is applied. Wiping off the dust with 
rags moistened with turpentine is superior to dusting with a brush in in- 
terior work because it keeps the dust out of the air. If a very light finish is 
not wanted, the bleaching lacquer can be omitted and varnish can be used 
in place of shellac. 

"Limed" finishes (also called pickled pine when they are applied to pine) 
are produced by rubbing a paste pigment, such as white lead or lithopone, 
into the pores of the wood. The paste is thinned somewhat with raw linseed 
oil or lead mixing oil and is applied and wiped off in the same way as has 
been described for wood fillers. After the paste that remains in the pores of 
the wood has hardened, the wood should be sanded, then finished with shellac 
and varnish or with varnish alone. Interior paints such as white enamel 
undercoater can be used instead of a paste pigment. 

The type of flat, clear finish so often seen on knotty pine can be produced 
in several ways. The simplest method is to sand and dust the wood and then 
to apply a coat of paste wax, which should be rubbed enough to spread it 
evenly but not enough to produce a high gloss. Another method is to brush 
the wood with raw linseed oil that has been thinned with an equal volume of 
turpentine. The first coat of oil can be followed with a second one after 
twenty-four hours. The latter treatment darkens the wood somewhat, and 
both the oil and the wood will grow darker in time. Still darker finishes 
can be produced by adding a pigment ground in oil to the linseed oil and 
turpentine mixture or by applying an oil stain before the mixture is applied. 
Clear finishes can also be produced with factory-made wood-sealing com- 
pounds and wax. 

382 New Houses from Old 

Stained finishes. The several basic types of wood stains have been de- 
scribed earlier in this chapter. Of these types, the oil stains are the easiest 
to apply, and they have the further advantage of not raising the grain of the 
wood. Prepared oil stains are available in many colors and shades and 
their use is recommended. 

An old wood surface is prepared for a stained finish by essentially the 
same procedure as for a natural finish. Bleaching out of the old stain is 
not necessary, however, unless the new finish is to be lighter or if the color 
is to be changed, for example, from mahogany to light brown. The stain 
is applied by brushing and is allowed to dry about twenty-four hours. Then 
if the wood is an open-grained one and the surface has been sanded down 
to the bare wood, a paste filler is applied. After the filler has dried, the wood 
is sanded, then dusted. A coat of interior varnish is applied, allowed to dry 
at least twenty-four hours, and then sanded with No. 000 sandpaper. The 
surface is again dusted, and a second coat of varnish is applied. Varnish 
stains in which a stain is combined with the first coat of varnish are avail- 
able. They save the work of applying a separate stain but sometimes produce 
inferior results. 

Fine varnish finishes used to be produced by rubbing down each coat 
with powdered pumice stone wet with water if a dull finish was wanted or 
with linseed oil for a satiny or semigloss finish. This technique is still a 
good one if you have the time, but almost as good finishes can be obtained 
by the use of flat-drying or semigloss varnishes, which require no rubbing 

Painted surfaces. The preparation of previously painted or varnished wood 
for repainting is often much simpler than preparing it for varnishing, be- 
cause the opacity of the paint will hide many imperfections that would 
show through varnish. If the old finish is rough or scarred, it should be 
removed; but if it is fairly smooth and is adhering firmly, sanding is all 
that is necessary in most cases. There are, however, two exceptions. Stains 
that contain an aniline dye will frequently "bleed" through fresh paint. 
Mahogany stain is a particularly bad offender in this way. The vehicles 
used in some modern interior paints, particularly in some of the synthetic 
lacquers and enamels, are incompatible with oil paints. They act on them 
much as paint removers do, causing them to soften and to let go of the wood. 
Either of these situations requires complete removal of the old finish. 

Oil and lead paints for interior wood can be purchased ready mixed, or 
they can be mixed at home if a fairly large quantity is required. A suggested 
formula for previously painted surfaces is equal volumes of white lead 
paste and lead mixing oil. New or bare wood requires a priming coat that 
can be prepared of 3 volumes of white lead paste, 3 volumes of lead mixing 

Painting and Papering 383 

oil, and 2 volumes of turpentine, plus ^ pt. of Japan drier to each gallon of 
paint. Oil and lead paints are, however, used less commonly for interior 
woodwork than are other kinds. 

Because of the great variety of formulas used for interior paints, the 
safest procedure in applying a particular paint is to follow strictly the 
manufacturer's directions both as to the undercoater to use and as to the 
method of application, but here is some general advice. Ready-mixed paints 
of all types should be passed through muslin or a fine wire screen just be- 
fore application to remove any "skin" or coarse particles. Thinning should 
be done only when it is recommended by the manufacturer and only with the 
type of thinner specified. Most interior paints, and especially the quick- 
drying enamels and lacquers, should be applied when the temperature in 
the house is between 70° and 75°. They should be flowed on with a full 
brush in such a way that it is not necessary to brush over the paint once it 
has been spread on the surface. Laps should be joined by flowing them 
together. Although many of the quick-drying enamels and lacquers will 
become firm to the touch in two to four hours, they usually are not hard 
enough to be sanded for at least twelve hours. Each coat, except the last, is 
sanded lightly and thoroughly cleaned of dust. The room should be well 
ventilated while painting is in progress and for several hours afterward. 
The air in the room should be kept as free of dust as possible until the 
paint has hardened. 


Before a wooden floor is refinished, it should be put in good structural 
condition (Chapter 22). If the floor is to be given a clear finish, it must 
usually be stripped down to the bare wood. This is best done with a powered 
sanding machine. The machine should be a good one with properly aligned 
bearings, otherwise the floor will be scarred. The sanding is usually started 
with No. 2 sandpaper or its equivalent in another abrasive paper. As the 
work progresses, finer grades of paper are used, and the last stage of the 
work is done with No. % or No. paper on softwood floors and with No. 
00 on hardwood floors. The machine is first operated across the grain, and 
the final sanding is done by passing the machine lengthwise of the grain. 
When the floor appears to be smooth, it should be swept and inspected at 
close range in a good light, such as sunlight or the light of a 100-watt bulb 
in a reflector. The floor should be completely free of visible scratches and 
other irregularities, for any such defects that can be seen at this stage will 
show plainly through a clear finish. When a powered sanding machine is not 
available, floors can be put in condition by handscraping and sanding. Some 

384 New Houses from Old 

handwork is necessary in corners and in other restricted areas even when a 
powered machine is used unless a small machine for corners is also available. 

After the sanding is done, the floor should be swept clean. Wiping with 
rags moistened with turpentine will remove fine dust that is missed by the 
brush or broom. Everything possible should then be done to keep the floor 
clean and free of scratches until the finish can be put on. If for some reason 
the floor must be walked on before it is finished, it should be covered with 
clean building paper. 

Finishes for softwood floors. Contractors often use orange shellac for the 
first coat on softwood floors and sometimes completely finish the floor with it. 
Unfortunately, shellac has several faults from the homeowner's point of 
view. The hard, brittle coat that it forms is easily scratched. It tends to wear 
through rapidly in spots where traffic is heavy. The water that is in emulsion 
(nonrubbing) floor waxes may discolor it, and spilled water may produce an 
opaque white spot. 

Floor varnish, thinned somewhat for the first coat, is more satisfactory 
than shellac. The varnish should be applied when the floor and the air in 
the room are about 70°F. The first coat should be allowed to dry about 
twenty-four hours. Then it should be sanded lightly with No. 000 sandpaper 
and finally brushed or wiped clean. A second coat of unthinned varnish 
should then be applied. After this has dried, a third coat can be applied in 
the same way or the floor can be finished with wax. 

However, the most satisfactory and economical way of finishing a floor 
is to use a good factory-made floor-sealing compound. The manufacturer's 
directions for a floor seal should be followed, but a typical procedure is to 
apply the compound with a brush or special applicator and to allow it to 
stand on the floor for the specified interval of time. The excess compound is 
then wiped off with rags or a rubber squeegee. Either varnish or wax can 
be applied as finish coats over most floor seals, but wax, rubbed in with a 
powered floor-waxing machine is recommended. 

A clear floor seal, finished with wax, produces an effect that is just as 
pleasing as an oiled finish. However, if you want a genuine oil finish, it can 
be had by heating raw linseed oil to about the temperature of boiling water 
and by brushing the hot oil on the wood. The first coat of oil will probably 
penetrate the wood unevenly, but the spotty appearance will disappear when 
a second or third coat is applied. Several days or even weeks should inter- 
vene between coats. Each coat should be polished with a coarse cloth 
wrapped around a block of wood or a brick. The faults of a linseed-oil 
finish are that it dries slowly, tends to collect dust, and inevitably darkens 
with age. 

Softwood floors are not usually stained if a light finish is desired. The 

Painting and Papering 385 

whitish appearance of the sanded wood disappears when either shellac, 
varnish, or a floor seal is applied. If a dark finish is desired, the wood should 
be stained with an oil stain in the same way that other woodwork is stained. 
The stain is applied before the first coat of shellac or varnish. A good method 
of producing a dark finish is to use a floor seal in which the desired color 
has been incorporated by the manufacturer. 

Softwood floors that are to be painted should be made smooth, then 
cleaned. A prepared floor paint should then be applied according to the 
manufacturer's directions. The average good-quality floor paint brushes on 
smoothly and dries in twenty-four hours or less. Two coats are usually 
necessary when the finish is built up from bare wood. Three coats are recom- 
mended in front of doors and in rooms where the floor will be subject to 
considerable wear. 

Finishes for hardivood floors. The finishing of hardwood floors is not 
much different from the finishing of softwood. However, most hardwoods 
will take a smoother finish than most softwoods, and this characteristic is 
taken advantage of by using a finer abrasive paper for the last stage of 
the sanding. Red-oak flooring is porous and must be filled with a paste wood 
filler before the first coat of shellac or varish is applied. The filler is applied 
in the same way as it is to interior trim. Some floor seals manufactured for 
use on oak do not require a separate filler. A filler is not necessary on white 
oak, maple, beech, or pecan flooring. Hardwood flooring finished at the 
factory with a floor seal and wax can be purchased. 

Special problems in refinishing old floors. Old softwood floors that have 
been oiled are sometimes rather difficult to refinish. In most cases the floor 
has become dark because of the ageing of the oil. To restore the floor to a 
light color, it is necessary to remove the old oil. In some cases, this can be 
done by saponifying the oil with a solution of a mild alkali, such as wash- 
ing (not baking) soda or trisodium phosphate. A lye solution is more effec- 
tive but is much more likely to damage the wood. The solution is applied 
liberally to a small area of the floor, allowed to stand for a few minutes, 
and then scrubbed vigorously with a stiff brush. Finally, the area is washed 
with clean water. This treatment will raise the grain of the wood and will 
cause the floor to become rough. It may also turn the wood gray. After the 
floor has thoroughly dried, the roughness is removed by sanding. If the 
floor is still gray, the light color can be restored by the use of a bleach. 
Sometimes an old oiled finish proves to be so resistant that removal is not 
practical. Application of fresh oil to such a floor will not improve its ap- 
pearance much and will not lighten its color at all; but if the floor boards 
are in good condition, a new oiled floor can be produced by turning the 
boards over and starting fresh. 

386 New Houses from Old 

An old oiled floor is usually a good surface on which to apply paint. Its 
suitability for varnish is somewhat uncertain because some modern varnishes 
will not flow out well on such a surface or will thicken after they have been 
applied. On the other hand, some floor varnishes react very well. A pre- 
liminary test on a small area of the floor is the only way to find out. 

Floors that are in good structural condition and on which the old finish 
is in fair condition can be refinished by fairly simple methods. If the new 
finish is to be a clear one, worn areas will require special treatment. These 
should be sanded and cleaned. If the wood is darkened under these areas, 
it can be lightened with a bleach. Care should be taken not to bleach the 
color too much or the spot will appear lighter than the rest of the floor 
after the new finish is applied. After the sanding and bleaching, the worn 
areas should be built up to the level of the old finish by the application of 
one or more coats of varnish. After the varnish in the repaired areas has 
hardened, the entire floor should be sanded sufficiently to cut the gloss off 
the old finish and to remove rough spots. It is then thoroughly cleaned of 
dust and varnished. If the floor is to be painted, the same procedure should 
be followed for building up worn spots, but bleaching of the wood is 
omitted. The worn areas are, of course, built up with paint. 

Old shellac can usually be removed from a floor by brushing on a liberal 
application of denatured alcohol, which softens the shellac so that it can 
be scraped off. Removal of a stain requires the taking off of all the varnish 
or shellac that has been applied over the stain. If the stain has not pene- 
trated deeply into the wood, the simplest method of removal is sanding with 
a power-driven floor sander; but if it has penetrated deeply, it must be 
removed by bleaching. 

Concrete floors. Dampness that is present in all concrete floors that are in 
contact with the soil makes it inadvisable to paint such floors with oil paints 
or even with paints that contain varnish as a vehicle. However, a type of 
paint known as rubber-base paint will adhere to concrete floors whether they 
are wet or dry, provided that the paint is correctly applied. Paints of this 
type are available in several colors. Application should be made according 
to the manufacturers' directions. 

If the only trouble is that the concrete dusts off, this condition can be 
corrected by painting it with a hardener. A hardener that can be made at 
home consists of 2 lb. of magnesium fluosilicate dissolved in 1 gal. of water. 
The solution is applied with a broom or mop and is allowed to dry twenty- 
four hours, then a second coat is applied. If crystals form, they can be 
washed off with clear water after the second coat has dried several days. 
Another hardener is made by diluting 1 gal. of sodium silicate with 3 gal. 
of water. This solution can be applied in the same way, but one coat is usu- 

Painting and Papering 387 

ally enough. Commercially prepared hardeners can be purchased in paint 
and hardware stores. 


In remodeling, wallpaper is a useful, decorative, and relatively inexpen- 
sive wall covering. Often it is the only wall finish that is practical when a 
rough, cracked, or unsightly wall must be made attractive at minimum 
expense. The qualities of ordinary wallpaper are well known. Washable and 
even quite waterproof papers are available for use in such rooms as the 
kitchen, bathroom, and nursery. Special products, such as wall cloth, which 
is a decorated cotton fabric, are sometimes available and are worth con- 
sidering for walls that are in such poor condition that papering with wall- 
paper is difficult. Wallpaper is usually applied to plaster but may also be 
applied to plasterboard, fiber insulating boards, and plywood. 

Preparing the surface. A wall that has previously been papered is best 
prepared for repapering by removal of the old paper. Only when the old 
paper is thin — not more than one or two layers — smooth, and adhering firmly 
is it advisable to leave it in place. Ordinary wallpaper can be removed rather 
easily by spraying, sponging, or brushing warm water over the surface. 
The water is allowed to soak through the paper to the paste underneath. 
The paper can then be pulled off in strips from most areas, but stubborn 
spots may require scraping with a paint scraper or wide putty knife. The 
surface of water-resistant papers and papers that have been painted or 
varnished must be scored before the water will penetrate. This is done by 
rubbing the surface of the paper with coarse sandpaper. 

A single layer of wallpaper on fiber wallboard is best left in place if it 
is smooth and firmly attached. If it is necessary to remove it, the least water 
that will loosen it should be used. After the paper is removed, the board 
should be given one coat of shellac or varnish. This material is allowed to 
dry, then the board is sanded to cut off the fibers and fuzz pulled up when 
the paper was removed. Paper that has been applied over lining felt on 
plywood should also be left in place if possible, because soaking may loosen 
the felt and necessitate installation of new lining. 

Calcimine should be removed from a calcimined wall before papering. 
This is done by sponging with warm water. Walls that have been painted 
with an oil paint should be rubbed thoroughly with No. ^ sandpaper, 
washed with soapy water, then rinsed with clear water. An oil-painted wall 
can be prepared also by washing it with a solution of 1 lb. of washing soda 
or 3 tablespoonfuls of trisodium phosphate in 1 gal. of water, then rinsing 
with clear water. Wallpaper should not be applied over fresh plaster until 
the plaster has aged at least two months. 

388 New Houses from Old 

Hair cracks in plaster can be ignored, but large cracks and holes should 
be repaired (Chapter 21). Isolated rough areas and areas where there are 
inany cracks can be covered with a lightweight muslin if the plaster is not 
loose. The next step is application of a glue size to the entire wall. One 
pound of flake or ground glue (obtainable at paint stores) is soaked several 
hours in two or three times its volume of cold water. When the glue has 
softened, the mixture is heated in a double boiler until all lumps disappear 
and the mixture has a uniform consistency. It is then poured into about 1^4 
gal. of warm water and stirred. The mix should feel just slightly sticky 
when tested between a thumb and finger dipped in it, then held in the air. 
The size is applied to the wall with a wide brush. 

Rough plaster walls, fiber wallboards, and plywood require somewhat 
different treatments. Rough plaster walls should be covered with a lining 
paper, a heavy, un figured paper that is applied the same as wallpaper. A 
rather stiff glue size thickened to the consistency of paste by adding fine 
whiting can be used in place of ordinary glue size on fiber wallboards. This 
mixture should be evenly brushed out and allowed about one day to dry. 
Gypsum wallboard (plasterboard) should be treated with a pigmented var- 
nish size formulated for plaster. The manufacturer of a wallboard will 
usually furnish on request specific directions for the application of wall- 
paper to it. 

The Douglas Fir Plywood Association has supplied the following in- 
formation about wallpapering on "Plywall": 

Panels should first be closely butted and the joints filled with a good crack 
filler, such as plastic wood, Swedish putty, or similar material. After the filler 
has dried, joints should be lightly sandpapered. Panels should now be coated with 
a wheat flour paste to which has been added a gelatine size. Over the plywood a 
layer of % lb. deadening felt or smooth wall-liner felt paper, both of which come 
in 36-in. widths, is applied after it has been treated with the same paste and size 
used on plywood panels. Occasionally blank stock is used in place of the felt. 
Felt is neatly butted at joints, rolled, and smoothed. From ceiling it should run 
down about 1 in. so that the strips applied to the side wall will lap over the ceil- 
ing strips by that amount. Lap will be covered by a moulding or border. Many 
decorators like to go over the felt with a smoothing brush to assure uniform ad- 
hesion to the plywood. The wallpaper is then ready to be hung in accordance with 
standard practice, using ordinary wheat flour paste. 

Estimating paper. American wallpapers are sold in single rolls that are 
8 yd. long and in double rolls that are twice as long. The standard trimmed 
width is 18 in. The number of rolls needed for a room can be determined 
by measuring around the room in widths of 18 in. to find the number of 
strips required. The number of strips that can be cut from a roll depends 
on the length of the strips and also on the length that must be cut off every 

Painting and Papering 389 

other strip in order to match the pattern. Assuming that each strip is 7 ft. 
long and that 6 in. must be cut off ahernate strips for trimming and match- 
ing, each o-yd. roll will make three strips, and there will be a piece 2 or 2^/4 
ft. long left over. If these short ends are long enough, they can be used 
over doors and below and above windows; but if they are not, paper needed 
for these areas should also be calculated in the equivalent of full-lenght 
strips. At least one extra roll should be purchased to provide for waste and 
as a reserve in case the paper ever needs repairing. A more rapid but less 
accurate method of estimating is to calculate the number of square feet that 
must be covered and to divide this number by the number of square feet 
of paper in a roll of paper — 36 sq. ft. in a single roll, 72 sq. ft. in a double 
roll. About 20 per cent should be added to an estimate made in this way 
for matching, narrow strips and waste. 

Equipment for hanging paper. A pasting table about 2 ft. wide and 7 ft. 
long is essential. It can be made by supporting boards on two sawhorses, 
two kitchen tables, or even large boxes. The surface of the table should be 
made smooth by putting a strip of plywood, heavy linoleum, or other solid 
material over the boards. A scaffold for papering the ceiling can be made 
by supporting planks on sawhorses or on stepladders. A stepladder is ade- 
quate for working on side walls. One wide brush will be needed for applica- 
tion of the paste to the paper and another for smoothing the paper. A seam 
roller helps greatly in making firm, well-stuck seams. Other tools needed 
are a plumb bob and line, a sharp knife or 10- or 12-in. shears for trimming, 
and a straight piece of wood or flat metal for use as a straightedge. A supply 
of rags for wiping up spilled paste and a receptacle for trimmings are also 

Paste. Prepared pastes for wallpaper can be purchased. A good-quality 
prepared paste usually contains special ingredients that improve the paste 
and retard its spoiling. However, quite satisfactory paste can be made at 
home from wheat flour. Four pounds of flour are placed in a pail. Cold water 
is stirred into the flour until a thick paste is produced. All lumps should be 
broken up at this stage. Then 2 gal. of boiling water are stirred in gradually. 
The addition of the boiling water will produce a jellylike product of uni- 
form consistency. This mixture is allowed to cool. It can then be thinned 
with cold water to the right thickness for easy brushing. One tablespoonful 
of alum added to the flour will make the paste dry more rapidly, but alum 
should not be used on papers on which the manufacturer has printed a pre- 
caution against its use. One-half pound of casein glue mixed with water and 
stirred into the paste makes a better product for use on porous or uneven 
walls. Paste will sour within two or three days, hence it should not be mixed 
too long in advance. 

390 New Houses from Old 

There are also wallpapers that do not require pasting. Such papers should 
be handled according to the manufacturers' directions, but as a general rule 
they need only be soaked in water to prepare them for hanging. 

Hanging the paper. The most difficult job in paper hanging is papering 
a ceiling. A plain ceiling paper rather than a figured one does away with 
the nuisance of matching. Papering should be started near the middle of 
the ceiling. A straight-edged piece of lumber 3 or 4 ft. long is held in the 
angle between the ceiling and the wall, and a steel square is based on it 
with the blade of the square against the ceiling. A pencil line is drawn on the 
plaster along the blade. Then with the piece of lumber as a guide, the pencil 
line is continued across the ceiling to the opposite wall. This line will serve 
as a guide for the first strip of paper. If there is a chandelier in the room, 
"drop" it so that it hangs on the wires. The line should bisect, or come within 
1 or 2 in. of bisecting, the point where the chandelier was attached to the 
box in the ceiling. (The piece of lumber can be notched to clear the wires 
when the line is being drawn.) 

The ceiling paper is cut from the rolls in lengths that equal the width of 
the room plus 4 in. The extra 4 in. are necessary so that the ceiling strips can 
be carried down 2 in. on the walls. Place a strip face down on the pasting 
table and apply the paste, brushing it from the middle of the strip toward 
the edges. To avoid getting paste on the table top and from there onto the 
face of the next strip of paper, the edges of the paper can be raised as the 
paste is brushed on them; but beginners usually find it more convenient 
to have plenty of plain paper, such as butchers' wrapping paper, on hand 
to cover the pasting table. When half a strip of wallpaper has been pasted, 
fold it accordion-fashion at one end of the table, paste the other half, then 
fold it up on the first half. Several strips can be pasted before turning to the 
hanging. Selvages — the edges which carry printing and which are meant to 
be trimmed off — can be removed with shears before the paper is pasted; but 
if this is done, it is difficult to apply enough paste but not too much to the 
edges. Trimming after pasting is therefore better. It can be done either with 
shears, using the edge of the table as a guide, or with a razor-sharp knife. 

Experienced paper hangers have their own methods of hanging ceiling 
paper; but the simplest way for the beginner is to hold the roll of folded 
paper in one hand and the smoothing brush in the other. Walk to one end 
of the scaffold, unfold 2 or 3 ft. of paper, and while holding the loose end 
with the smoothing brush, place the paper so that its edge is along the 
penciled line and about 2 in. of it are hanging down on the wall. Stick the 
paper temporarily by pressing it against the ceiling with the brush, then 
walk back along the scaffold, unfolding the paper against the line and 
sticking it with a few quick strokes of the brush as you go. 

Painting and Papering 391 

Once the paper is out of your hands, go back over the strip, brushing 
carefully so that all of the paper is pressed tightly against the ceiling. You 
may brush both lengthwise and across the paper, but don't brush too vigor- 
ously in the latter direction or you may push the paper out of line. Finally, 
break the paper so that it fits snugly at the chandelier, and stick down the 
ends on the wall. Succeeding strips of paper are hung in the same way, 
except that instead of a pencil line, the edge of the last strip applied serves 
as a guide. Papering of a ceiling can be started at one end in rooms where 
there is no lighting fixture in the ceiling; but if the end walls of the room 
are not exactly parallel, as is the case in many houses, the last strip will 
require special fitting. 

Joints between strips can be overlapped slightly, but it is not easy to 
keep such joints straight. Butted joints, in which the edge of each strip is 
placed smoothly against the edge of the preceding one, are easier to make. 
After a few strips are in place, roll the seams with the seam roller. A strip 
of less than standard width will probably be needed at the end of the room. 
It is better to cut such strips before pasting. When determining their width, 
don't overlook the 2 in. of width that will be needed for lapping down on the 

If the room has a picture molding that is placed just below the junction 
between the ceiling and the wall, the ceiling paper is, of course, not lapped 
on the wall. Instead it is tucked in as neatly as possible above the molding 
and is stuck down with a narrow implement such as a small paintbrush or a 
table knife. If the picture molding is located some distance below the ceil- 
ing, the space should be filled in with a wallpaper border. Before the border 
is applied, the lapped edges of the ceiling paper should be trimmed to a 
straight line. 

The strips of paper for the walls of the room must be cut so that the 
pattern will match. Patterns in wallpaper are either "straight" or "drop." 
Straight patterns have matching patterns opposite each other on the edges 
of the paper, but drop patterns are not alike on their opposite edges and 
therefore must be matched by hanging the strips so that the pattern in one 
strip adjoins the midpoint of the pattern in the adjacent strip. There is some 
waste if successive strips of a drop-pattern paper are cut from the same 
roll, but this can be avoided by cutting them from alternate rolls after 
first cutting from one of the rolls the short length that must be discarded 
to bring about the matching. The strips should be cut somewhat longer than 
the height of the wall to allow for trimming at the top and bottom. 

Begin hanging the paper on a principal area of the wall, such as over 
the mantel if there is one in the room, or between a pair of windows, or 
on the most prominent expanse of unbroken wall. If there is a large figure 

392 New Houses from Old 

or wide stripe in the pattern, this should be centered in the area where work 
is started. The position of the first strip is marked by suspending a plumb 
line from the picture molding or at the point where the wall joins the ceiling 
and by making a pencil line along it. More than one area may require 
centering in this way. 

To apply the paper to the wall, rest half of the folded strip on the step- 
ladder and place the upper half in position along the penciled line. Use 
the smoothing brush to stick the paper, then unfold and stick down the 
lower half. Score the paper at the baseboard and at the molding with the 
blunt side of a knife, pull the ends away from the wall, and cut them off 
slightly above the mark made by the knife. Work the trimmed ends smoothly 
against the molding and baseboard. As on the ceiling, the edge of the first 
strip serves as a guide for the next strip, and so on. Switch plates should be 
removed and the paper placed under them. At corners, the edge of one strip 
is lapped about ^2 ^^- ^^ the adjacent wall, and the edge of the first strip 
on the adjoining wall is placed flat on the lap. Carrying a wide strip around 
a corner will result in early loosening and cracking of the paper along the 
line where the two walls come together. The simplest way of getting a good 
fit around woodwork projections, such as the ends of window stools, is to 
cut a cardboard pattern to fit the projection and to use it to mark the wall- 
paper for cutting. 

If a border is to be used, it is put on after the walls are papered. Paper- 
ing of only a portion of the room, such as the wall over the mantel or be- 
hind the bed in a bedroom, is a modern idea that produces excellent decora- 
tive results. A good paper with an attractive pattern should be used and 
the rest of the wall should be painted in a color that harmonizes with the 
background color of the paper. 




W HEN A NEW HOUSE is planned, the heating system can be designed as an 
integral part of it. The location of the chimney, the size of its flue, the loca- 
tion of pipes or ducts, radiators or registers, and other details can all be 
worked out in advance to suit the house plan and the requirements of the 
system. But in remodeling, the heating plant must be designed to fit a struc- 
ture that is already built. Such things as the location of an existing chimney, 
the location of partition walls, and the layout of the house become important 
factors in the choice of a system. However, such restrictions do not mean 
that the heating system in a remodeled house must be less satisfactory than 
one in a new house. A heating plant can be designed for any remodeled 
house that will perform just as well as a system planned for a new house. 
It is necessary only to choose an appropriate type of system and to design 
it expertly. 

Types of Heating Systems 

Central heating systems are classified according to the medium that is 
used to conduct the heat from the furnace or boiler to the rooms of the 

Gravity warm air. The heat generator in this type of system is called a 
furnace. The old-style round furnace was essentially a rugged cast-iron stove 
with a sheet-metal casing around it. However, modern furnaces have been 
modified and improved so that the resemblance to jacketed stoves has all 
but disappeared in many makes. Nevertheless, the essential principle re- 
mains the same. An inner shell contains the fire pot, the primary and sec- 
ondary heating surfaces, the flue-pipe connection, and, if a solid fuel is 
burned, the grates and ashpit. The outer shell is a sheet-metal casing, usually 
double walled to prevent the escape of an excessive amount of heat and 
supported so that there is a substantial air space between the two shells. 

The air circulation in this system depends on the difference in weight be- 
tween warm air and cool air. The air in the space between the two shells 
of the furnace takes up heat from the hot inner shell. As it becomes warmer, 


394 New Houses from Old 

it expands, becomes lighter in weight, and is literally pushed upward 
through the warm-air pipes and the registers by the heavier air in the 
bottom of the furnace and in the cold-air return piping. In the room, the 
warm air loses some of its heat, grows denser, and flows back to the furnace 
through the cold-air intake. As long as there is sufficient heat in the furnace, 
the cycle is continuous. 

The gravity warm-air system is flexible enough to maintain comfortable 
temperatures in the house over a wide range of outdoor temperatures. It 
responds well to sudden demands for heat, as on cold mornings. When it is 
necessary to shut the system down, nothing need be done other than to let 
the fire go out and to clean the grates. Disadvantages are that sound, odors, 
and dust travel easily from one part of the house to another via the piping; 
filters to remove dust cannot be used in the system; strong winds often affect 
the air circulation and cause cold rooms on the windward side of the house; 
and there is some fire hazard from overheated pipes unless the system is 
carefully installed and controlled. The leader pipes, which conduct the warm 
air from the furnace to first-floor registers and to the risers for higher 
floors, should be approximately equal in length and not over 12 ft. long. 
The furnace must be located below any room that is to be heated. These re- 
quirements limit the system to compact houses with basements and centrally 
located chimneys. 

Generally, the cost of a gravity warm-air system is less than that of other 
types of central heating systems; but in remodeling, this factor may be 
affected greatly by installation difficulties. Installation is easy in one-story 
houses, but partition walls must usually be broken into in order to install 
the second-floor risers in multistory houses. At one time it was standard prac- 
tice to provide only one, or at most two, cold-air registers, which were 
usually located on the first floor; but modern practice is to provide cold-air 
intakes in all of the principal rooms, including rooms on the second and 
third floors. Installation of a complete system of cold-air return ducts in a 
house already built may prove very expensive. 

A pipeless furnace — so-called because the air is not piped to the separate 
rooms of the house — is a special type of gravity warm-air system. A pipe- 
less furnace performs satisfactorily in house heating only when the house 
is compact and small. Doors must be left open to obtain even a fair circula- 
tion of the heated air throughout the house. The large register in the floor 
of a main room of the house is an inconvenience from the viewpoint of 
furniture arrangement. In spite of its faults, however, the pipeless furnace 
is a satisfactory heater for small houses used as summer homes or located in 
climates where heating demands are not severe. 

Floor furnaces operate similarly to pipeless furnaces. The furnace unit 



is sunk into the floor and is usually supported on the floor framing. No 
basement is required, but there must be enough space under the floor to 
accommodate the furnace, to provide an air space of 6 to 12 in. around it, 
and to give access for servicing. Floor furnaces use gas or oil as fuel. Gas- 
fired floor furnaces can be installed in second-floor rooms when the furnace 
unit can be placed over a garage, utility room, or closet large enough to 
provide the necessary air space around the unit. A wall furnace is a variety 
of the floor furnace that is designed for installation in a wall instead of the 
floor. Floor and wall furnaces have essentially the same limitations in house 
heating as pipeless warm-air furnaces; but in some sections of the country, 
rather large houses are heated with them by installing several in the house. 
Forced warm air. The air circulates through a forced warm-air system 
in the same direction as in a gravity system, but a motor-driven fan is used 
to create a positive pressure that is more dependable than the pressure pro- 
duced by the different densities of warm and cool air in a gravity system. 

[.Cotirtcsy Chrysler Corporation.) 

Fig. 24.1. — Cutaway view of a modern gas-fired forced warm-air system. The fan 
and air filters are on the left. The burner is in the center. 

396 New Houses from Old 

Because of this pressure, the system has rather different characteristics. 
High air temperatures are not necessary to create a circulation, hence in 
mild weather the air that issues from the warm-air register need be only 
slightly above the desired room temperature. The response when heat is 
needed is even more rapid than in the gravity system. It is not necessary to 
locate the furnace centrally in relation to the house. In fact, the furnace need 
not be located in the basement, since the warm air can be forced to rooms 
located below the furnace. Smaller ducts and registers can be used. Humidi- 
fiers and dust filters can both be incorporated in the system. A typical 
modern forced-air unit is illustrated in Fig. 24.1. Forced-air systems are 
often advertised as winter air conditioners. They can also be used for sum- 
mer air conditioning if cooling equipment is included; but the addition of 
such equipment adds considerably to the cost of the system. 

Forced-air systems are somewhat easier to install in remodeling, because 
the location of the furnace is not critical and because the piping and the 
registers can be smaller. However, if the house has more than one story, 
partitions must still be broken into in order to install the risers to the floors 
above the first, unless the risers can be concealed in closets or cupboards. 

One-pipe steam system. In this system the heat is generated in a boiler. 
House-heating boilers are usually constructed of hollow cast-iron sections 
(Fig. 24.2), but boilers made entirely of steel are also on the market. The 
hollow parts of a steam boiler are partly filled with water. When there is a 
fire in the boiler, the heat raises the temperature of the water until part of it 
is converted to steam. The steam flows by its own pressure through piping 
or tubing to radiators in the rooms of the house. In the radiator, it gives 
up a large part of its heat, becomes liquid again and, in one-pipe systems, 
flows back to the boiler through the same pipe. 

This type of system is, in most cases, relatively low in cost. It is a favorite 
system in climates where winters are extremely cold because the supply of 
heat to the rooms of the house can readily be increased by increasing the 
steam pressure. The boiler must be located in a basement below the space 
to be heated, but it is not necessary to place it at the center of the house. 
The system has several objectionable characteristics. The chief of these is the 
lag between a demand for heat and the delivery of steam to the radiators. 
This lag is most noticeable when the weather is mild and demands for heat 
are infrequent. 

As the system is ordinarily installed, the radiators are equipped with vent 
valves which permit cool air to flow out of them but which close when steam 
reaches them. The valves remain closed as long as the radiators are filled 
with steam; but when the pressure drops, the valves open again and permit 
air to flow into the radiators and into the pipes that lead to the boiler. This 



air must be expelled before steam will again flow into the radiators; conse- 
quently, each time there is a demand for heat, steam pressure must be built 
up to the point where it can force the air out of the pipes and the radiators. 
However, if a special type of vent valve — often called a vacuum valve — 
which allows air to flow out of the radiator but does not permit it to flow 
in, is used, the steam flows at a lower pressure, and the lag is considerably 
reduced but not entirely eliminated. 

iCourtesy National Radiator Corporation.") 

Fig. 24.2. — Cutaway view of a medium-sized oil-fired steam boiler with internal 
heating coil for domestic hot water. 

Another disadvantage of one-pipe steam systems is that the radiators must 
be either completely on or completely off, since a partially opened supply 
valve will restrict the return flow of the condensed water and will cause the 
radiator to become waterlogged. This characteristic makes it difficult to main- 
tain an even temparature in the rooms. A minor fault is that the boiler must 
be drained when the system is not in use during cold weather. 

A one-pipe steam system is comparatively easy to install in remodeling 
if the house has a basement. Connections to first-floor radiators are made 
through a single hole bored through the floor for each radiator. Pipes or 
tubes to radiators on second floors are much easier to install than the large 
risers and ducts necessary in a warin-air system. Often they can be placed 
without cutting into the walls and with only a little cutting of floors. 

398 New Houses from Old 

Two-pipe steam system. In this type of heating system separate lines of 
pipe are used to conduct the steam to the radiators and to conduct the water 
back to the boiler. Each radiator has two connections. The connection on the 
supply side is made through an adjustable valve; while on the return side 
it is made through a special thermostatic trap that permits air and water 
but not steam to flow into the return piping. This arrangement permits each 
radiator to be adjusted to maintain the desired room temperature. Two-pipe 
systems are usually designed as "vapor" systems. The radiators are not 
vented into the rooms, but a special "air eliminator" located near the boiler 
removes any air that gets into the system. Only a few ounces of steam pres- 
sure are required to produce a flow to the radiators; consequently the system 
responds rapidly. Otherwise its characteristics are the same as a one-pipe 

The special valves, thermostatic traps, and double lines of piping make the 
initial cost of a two-pipe system higher than the cost of a one-pipe system 
for the same house. Installation difficulties are increased by the second line 
of piping. However, a well-designed two-pipe system is often worth its 
extra cost. 

Gravity hot ivater. The heat generator in hot-water heating systems is 
called a boiler in spite of the fact that the water is not heated to its boiling 
point. The construction of the boiler differs from that of a steam boiler only 
in the lack of space at the top for the collection of steam. In a hot-water 
system not only the boiler but also the pipes to and from the radiators and 
the radiators as well are filled with water. The flow of water through the 
system is produced by the different densities of warm and cold water. 

Provision for the expansion of the water when it is heated is made in 
two ways. The older method, which is still followed in some installations, 
was to extend a line of pipe to some point above the topmost radiator and 
to connect it to a small tank that was open to the atmosphere. An overflow 
pipe was connected near the top of the tank to carry off any excess water. 
A closed expansion tank, located near the boiler, is now more commonly 
used. The closed tank is partly filled with water and partly filled with air. 
When the water in the system expands, the air is squeezed into a smaller 
space and exerts a pressure on the water that is greater in most systems than 
the pressure exerted by the atmosphere. The increased pressure raises the 
boiling point of the water, thus permitting the water to be heated above 
212° F. without turning into steam. 

Two lines of piping are required, one to conduct the heated water to the 
radiators and the other to conduct the cooled water back to the boiler. The 
pipes must be large in comparison to steam and forced hot-water systems. 
The system responds rather slowly, but it can be regulated to maintain a 

Heating 399 

uniform temperature when the outdoor temperature does not fluctuate too 
rapidly. The flow of water through individual radiators can be regulated, 
thus making it possible to maintain different temperatures in different rooms. 
The system cannot be "forced," hence it must be correctly designed if it is 
to maintain comfortable temperatures in the house during very cold weather. 
Larger radiators are required than in a steam system. A fairly central loca- 
tion for the boiler is desirable but not absolutely essential, since the flow 
of water through the system can be balanced by adjusting the supply valves 
to the radiators or by the use of special valves for the purpose. The boiler 
is usually placed in the basement; but if the house lacks a basement, it 
can be placed in a utility room or any other location where its weight can 
be supported and where the connection for the returned water at the base 
of the boiler will not be higher than the lowest radiator in thr; system. If 
the boiler is placed on a wooden floor, a "wet-base" boiler, in which the 
water-containing sections extend below the fire pot, should be selected. 

Heat cannot be supplied to rooms located below the boiler with this 
system, and the entire system must be drained if the house is not occupied 
during freezing weather. Installation problems in a house already built are 
the same as for a two-pipe steam system, except for the fact that the some- 
what larger piping necessitates more care when studs and joists are cut. 

Forced hot water. As a motor-driven fan can be used in a warm-air heat- 
ing system to circulate the air, a motor-driven pump (often called a cir- 
culator) can be used in a hot- water heating system to circulate the water. 
The addition of the pump gives the system a more rapid response and makes 
it more flexible to meet fluctuating demands for heat. Since more water can 
be passed through the radiators in a given period of time, both the piping 
and the radiators can be smaller. Radiators located below the boiler can 
be supplied. Other characteristics of the system are the same as for a gravity 
hot-water system. The cost is often very little more than the cost of a gravity 
system. In fact, in many installations the savings made possible by the 
smaller radiators and piping are enough to pay for the pump. A modern 
forced hot-water system is shown in Fig. 24.3. The circulator is at the back 
of the boiler on the right-hand side. The smaller tank above the boiler is 
the expansion tank, and the larger is the storage tank for the hot-water 
supply. An oil burner is attached to the front of the boiler. 

Forced hot-water systems can be constructed with two lines of piping; 
but by special construction of the supply main or by the use of special 
fittings, one main line of piping can be used both to supply the heated 
water to the radiators and to conduct the cooled water back to the boiler. 
However, two connections must still be made from the boiler to each 
radiator; consequently, the saving in pipe and fittings is not so great as it 


New Houses from Old 

is in a one-pipe steam system over a two-pipe steam system. The structural 
difficulties that will be encountered in installing a forced hot-water system 
in remodeling are essentially the same as for a two-pipe steam system. 

Fig. 24.3. — Modern hot-water boiler with oil burner and circulating pump. 

Registers, Radiators, and Convectors 

The equipment that is used to transfer heat from the heating system to the 
rooms of the house also affects the problem of installation of heating systems 
in remodeling. 

Registers. It is standard practice to place warm-air registers in the floor 
or in inside walls. Sometimes in remodeling it is easier to place the risers 
to registers on floors above the first in exterior walls, especially when the 
inside of an exterior wall is furred out to provide space for insulation or 
plumbing pipes. In such cases, the risers should be well insulated. In 
gravity warm-air systems, the warm-air registers must be located in the 
floor or at the baseboard level. In forced warm-air systems, they can be 
located in the floor or anywhere on the wall up to a point 1 ft. below the 
ceiling. Whatever level is selected, the location should be one that will not 

Heating 401 

interfere with the placement of furniture. The registers should also be placed 
where the warm current of air will not blow directly on persons in the room. 
Registers are now available in which the vanes are shaped to cause the air 
to flow sideways and downward. 

Although, as was mentioned before, it is now considered better practice 
to design warm-air heating systems with a separate cold-air intake in each 
room or at least in most of the rooms instead of with only one or two cold- 
air returns on the first floor, this method is often impracticable in remodeling 
because large areas of floor and walls must usually be opened to install the 
return ducts. However, if individual intakes are installed, they should be 
placed in the floor or baseboard at some distance from warm-air registers, 
never directly across the room from them or directly under them. If the 
old method of using one or two cold-air returns for the entire house is 
adopted, the intakes should be located on the first floor. It is important to 
place them where the flow of cool air toward them will be as uninterrupted 
as possible and where the mild draft produced will not cause discomfort 
to persons in the house. They are commonly placed in the floor, usually 
the floor of the main downstairs hall; but dirt and small objects find their 
way down a floor register and create a fire hazard. For this reason, a location 
on the wall just above the baseboard is better. 

Radiators should be placed whenever possible along outer walls. They 
are usually located under windows, because in this position they warm the 
current of cooled air that flows downward over the glass before it can reach 
the room and cause a cold draft. However, this location is not essential if 
the windows are to be equipped with double glass or even with good storm 

Convectors. Instead of the rather large area of cast iron that in a radiator 
transfers heat to the room both by radiation and convection, the typical 
convector has a multitude of thin fins that are formed of a metal of high 
heat conductivity, usually copper. The fins are attached to a pipe, or pipes, 
called the core, through which the steam or hot water flows. Heat is con- 
ducted from the core along the fins and is transferred from them to the 
room air as it flows between them. Little or no heat is emitted to the room 
by direct radiation. Convectors are also made with cast-iron sections some- 
what like the sections of radiators. 

The modern tendency is to make the heating system inconspicuous and to 
give up as little room space as possible to the heating equipment. Radiators 
and convectors are often covered with metal cabinets or installed in wall 
recesses. When they are installed in wall recesses, the backs of the recesses 
should be insulated. Both cabinets and recesses add to the cost of installing 
a heating system, and unless they are expertly designed, they may reduce 

402 New Houses from Old 

the rate of heat transfer to the room. Whether they are worth while will 
depend both on your taste in interior decoration and on the amount of 
money you wish to spend on the heating installation. Good cabinets are 
not inexpensive. The cost of recesses depends somewhat on the present con- 
struction of the wall and also on the other changes that must be made in it, 
but it will seldom be less and often it will be more than the cost of cabinets. 
Neither recesses nor cabinets will improve the performance of the heating 

Baseboard convectors and radiators are rather new developments in the 
line of making the heating system unobtrusive and of denying it space in 
the living area. Although they are not less expensive than conventional 
radiators that stand in the room, they are sometimes less expensive to install 
in remodeling, because it is easier to make the piping connections. Also 
they save some space in the room. 

Radiant heating. Radiant or panel heating is a method that is just begin- 
ning to attract attention as a method of transferring heat from the heating 
plant to the rooms of the house. A coil of pipe or tubing is installed in 
selected areas of the wall or ceiling. Steam or warmed water flows through 
the tubing and heats the panel, which in turn radiates heat to the room. 
The chief advantage of the system is that the heat is distributed uniformly 
over a large area. There are no local "hot spots" such as exist around 
registers, radiators, or convectors. Other advantages are that no room space 
is taken up by heating equipment, and since convection currents are prac- 
tically absent, dirt streaks are not formed on walls and ceilings. The suit- 
ability of the system in remodeling will depend in most cases on the 
amount of floor or wall reconstruction that is included in the program for 
the house. Radiant heating must be designed and installed by experts if it 
is to give satisfaction. 

Fueling Systems 

Stokers. Coal-burning central heating systems can be hand-fired, but the 
addition of a mechanical stoker adds greatly to the convenience of the sys- 
tem. Furthermore, there is usually a considerable saving in fuel costs, both 
because a lower-priced size of coal can be used and because the fuel is 
burned more efficiently. Most stokers for household heating systems feed 
the coal to the fire by means of a screw that revolves inside a tube. The 
coal can be fed to the screw from a hopper, or it can be fed directly 
from the bin. If a hopper is used, it must be filled by hand periodically. 
The frequency of filling depends on the demands for heat; but most house- 
hold stokers are equipped with hoppers that hold at least a twenty-four- 

Heating 403 

hour supply of fuel for the coldest weather. If the coal is fed directly from 
the bin — and this is by far the most convenient method — the bin must be 
located not too far from the furnace, and it must have a sloping bottom. 
Some makes of stokers are constructed so that they automatically remove 
the ashes and deposit them in covered cans; others have no provision for 
automatic ash removal, and this operation must be performed by hand. 

Oil burners. Oil burners used in house-heating systems can be classified 
as follows: the pressure atomizing or gun type, the centrifugal atomizing 
or rotary type, and the vaporizing or pot type. Before fuel oil can be 
burned, it must be either broken up into fine droplets or vaporized. The 
pressure atomizing type of burner breaks up the oil by forcing it under 
pressure through a nozzle with a small opening; the centrifugal type accom- 
plishes essentially the same thing by throwing the oil from the edge of a 
rapidly rotating cup or disk; and the vaporizing type turns the oil into a 
vapor by heating it before combustion takes place. Relatively large quanti- 
ties of air must be mixed with the oil to burn it completely. In most makes 
of burners the air is supplied by a motor-driven fan, but some makes of 
vaporizing burners depend on the natural draft of the chimney. 

Most oil burners are designed for intermittent operation. When heat is 
needed, they go into action; and as soon as the house is heated to the 
desired temperature, they shut off and the fire goes out completely. For 
this reason, some way must be provided for igniting the oil when the 
burner starts. A gas pilot light that remains on constantly is used for this 
purpose in some installations, but ignition by electric spark is the more 
common method. 

There are no reliable data that can be used as bases of comparison 
among these basic types of burners. Most of the domestic oil burners sold 
for house-heating systems are either of the pressure atomizing or the cen- 
trifugal type. On the other hand, the vaporizing type of burner predominates 
in small heating units such as floor furnaces. It is the only one of the 
three types that can operate without electricity. Vaporizing burners usually 
burn only No. 1 fuel oil, while the other two types are usually designed to 
burn No. 2 oil. Not only is No. 1 a more costly grade of oil, but also its 
heat content is slightly less than the heat content of No. 2 oil. The pressure 
atomizing type of burner is usually installed in front of the boiler or fur- 
nace and is therefore a little more accessible when maintenance and servicing 
are necessary. The centrifugal type is usually installed under the furnace 
or boiler and takes up no extra space in the basement. 

A tank for the storage of oil must be included in the fuel system when 
oil is burned, and its cost must be counted in estimating the cost of the 
system. A tank with a capacity of 275 gal. is considered adequate for 

404 New Houses from Old 

houses of average size that are located where oil deliveries can be made on 
short notice. Larger tanks should be used if the house is situated where 
roads may be blocked with snow in cold weather. Oil burners and oil 
storage tanks must be installed according to the provisions of any local 
code that governs them. Although tanks installed outside the house and 
underground are safer, most codes permit a tank up to a capacity of 275 gal. 
— and sometimes two such tanks — to be installed in the basement. A base- 
ment tank should be placed at least 7 ft. from the boiler or any other 
source of flame, and a greater distance is better. An enclosure made of 
concrete block or some other fireproof material is an inexpensive safety 

Gas. When gas is used for house heating, it is usually delivered by pipe 
under sufficient pressure to operate the burner; consequently, no provision 
is necessary for fuel storage, and no auxiliary power is necessary to operate 
the burner. The exception is liquefied petroleum gas, which is used in some 
small heating units, such as floor furnaces, and is delivered in steel cylinders. 
Even this type of gas is under pressure and requires no power to operate 
the burner. 

Heating-system Controls 

For many decades hand-fired furnaces were controlled by hand. The only 
concession to the householder's convenience was a manual "regulator," 
which was mounted somewhere on the first floor and connected by chains 
to the check damper and draft door of the furnace. Draft regulators that 
were attached directly to steam and hot-water boilers were developed rather 
early and are still used in some installations. Although this type of device is 
automatic in operation, it is controlled by the temperature of the boiler rather 
than by the temperature of the living quarters in the house. The next stage in 
development was a draft regulator that was controlled by a thermostat 
placed in the living quarters. When installed on hand-fired systems, this 
device employs a small electric motor to open and close the draft doors. 
Controls of all these general types are still found on heating systems in 
old houses. 

Various controlling systems are used on modern house-heating plants. 
They differ somewhat according to the make of the system and the method 
by which it is fueled. The main controlling element is usually a thermostat 
that is placed in a carefully selected position in the living quarters of the 

In systems that are fueled by oil and gas, the thermostat controls the 
operation of the burner. In addition, these systems always have a safety 
device that is variously called a primary control relay or stack switch, 

Heating 405 

whose purpose is to shut off the burner if the fuel fails to ignite when the 
burner starts or if the flame goes out after it has started. It is usually 
mounted on the breeching between the furnace or boiler and the chimney, 
but it can be mounted on the fire door. Automatically fueled systems also 
have some types of limit control to prevent excess pressures or tempera- 
tures. On hot-water boilers this control is sometimes called a high-limit 
aquastat; on steam boilers it is called a pressure control; and on hot-air 
furnaces, a bonnet control. Unlike the primary control, the limit control is 
constructed so that it automatically starts the burner again as soon as the 
temperature or pressure has returned to safe limits. 

A low-water control is also included on boilers. Its purpose is to pre- 
vent the operation of the burner when there is not enough water in the 
boiler. An "operating aquastat" is usually included. Its function is to start 
the burner often enough to keep the water in the boiler at a selected mini- 
mum temperature. This control operates mainly in the summertime when 
the system is not being used for house heating; but it is usually connected 
so that it operates in the wintertime, also, whenever the temperature of 
the water in the boiler drops below a certain level, usually 160° F. 

Forced warm-air heating systems have a control that starts the circulating 
fan whenever the air temperature at the top of the furnace exceeds a certain 
level, usually 120°F. A fire timer is usually included with stokers. This 
control causes the stoker to operate frequently, enough to keep the fire from 
going out when the calls from the room thermostat are not frequent enough 
to accomplish the same purpose. 

A controlling system known as zone control has long been used in com- 
mercial buildings and is now being promoted for use in residences. Zone 
controls permit the maintenance of different temperatures in different parts 
of the house. 

In most cases the manufacturer of an automatic heating system furnishes 
specific instructions as to the controls that are to be used with it. Many 
automatic fueling systems bear a label of Underwriters Laboratories, Inc. 
These should be installed with the controls recommended by that organi- 
zation. Automatic controls require electrical connections that in most com- 
munities must be installed to conform with the local electrical code. In 
regions where there is no such code, the wiring should be done in accordance 
with the National Electrical Code. 

Heating Calculations 

If the house is to be heated adequately without waste of fuel, the heating 
system must be designed accurately. The first step in its design is to make 
what heating engineers call a heat-loss calculation. This calculation provides 

406 New Houses from Old 

information about the quantity of heat that will be lost from the house in 
cold weather. The heating plant is then designed with the capacity to supply 
this quantity of heat. Many heating systems have been installed without 
such a preliminary calculation. Sometimes they work satisfactorily because 
the installer has made a good guess, which may have been based on con- 
siderable experience with similar houses. Too often, they prove to have 
insufficient capacity in cold weather; or if the contractor has covered up 
his inexpertness by installing an oversized system, they waste fuel. Design 
by rule of thumb is seldom a safe procedure when a heating system is to 
be installed in an old house. 

Heat transmission is discussed in Chapter 25 in connection with insu- 
lation. Here, it will be sufficient to point out that heat is lost from a house 
in two ways: it passes through the walls and windows, and it is carried 
out in warm air that escapes from the house through cracks around doors 
and windows and through walls. Often in cold weather the latter process 
seems to work the other way. Cold air blows into the house around the 
windows and doors, but you can be sure that for all the cold air that enters, 
an equal volume of warm air escapes somewhere. 

Terminology. Heat-loss calculations are made in terms of the British 
thermal unit (B.t.u.), which is a unit of heat measurement that stands for 
the quantity of heat required to raise the temperature of one pound of 
water one degree Fahrenheit. The symbol k indicates the degree of heat 
conductivity of a material, and its definition is the quantity of heat that 
will flow through a panel of the material one square foot in area and one 
inch thick when the temperature difference between the opposite surfaces of 
the panel is one degree Fahrenheit. C denotes conductance, and its difference 
from k is that it can be applied to walls (or roofs or ceilings) of various thick- 
nesses and constructed of one or more materials. It indicates the number of 
B.t.u. that will flow per hour through one square foot of wall (or roof or 
ceiling) for each degree Fahrenheit of temperature difference between the 
inner and outer surfaces. 

JJ is the symbol for transmittance or transmission. It is the same as C 
except that the temperatures of the air adjacent to the wall surfaces are 
used instead of the surface temperatures. This is an important distinction, 
because the transmission of heat from air to a solid material is not instan- 
taneous but proceeds at a definite rate that depends on the conditions. 
This factor is known as film resistance, and the symbol for it is /,* fo is often 
used to indicate the outside film resistance and fi to indicate the inside film 
resistance; / is defined as the number of B.t.u. transmitted to, or vice versa, 
a square foot of surface per hour when the temperature difference between 
the adjacent air and the surface is one degree Fahrenheit. The value of / for 

Heating 407 

still air, as inside a room, is 1.65. In determining fo, heating engineers 
assume a wind velocity of 15 mph, under which condition the value is 6.0. 
R stands for resistance or resistivity. It may be the reciprocal of conductivity, 
conductance, or transmission, thus 1/k, 1/C, or 1/U. C, U, k, etc., are often 
referred to as coefficients of heat transmission. 

The letters EDR stand for Equivalent Direct Radiation. They are used 
to express the heat-generating capacity or the heat-transfer capacity in terms 
of the transfer capacity of a square foot of direct steam radiation, which is 
accepted as 240 B.t.u. per hour. Mbh, which stands for 1,000 B.t.u. per 
hour, is used in place of EDR in some recent catalogues and heating litera- 
ture. Degree-day is used chiefly in estimating fuel consumption, and it refers 
to the difference in degrees for twenty-four hours between the average out- 
door temperature and an indoor temperature of 65° F. Thus, if the average 
outdoor temperature for a consecutive day and night is 35 °F., the twenty- 
four-hour period was equivalent to 30 degree-days. Most heat-loss calcula- 
tions can be made with the use of only a few of these symbols and terms; 
but since all of them are found in books and articles about heating, you 
may need to know them. 

Making the heat-loss calculation. The heat-loss calculation should be made 
room by room and the results for each room distinctly marked and kept 
separately so that they can be used to determine the correct size of the 
register, radiator, or convector that will be installed in the room. The 
separate results are finally added together to obtain the total heat loss from 
the house, which in turn determines the correct size for the furnace or 
boiler. In making the calculation, it is necessary to take into account only 
interior surfaces whose opposite faces are exposed to the outdoor air or to 
an unheated space. Thus an exterior wall is counted, but an interior wall 
that will be heated on both sides is ignored. Floors over heated basements 
are ignored, but floors over unheated spaces or over the outdoor air, as 
when a second-floor room overhangs a porch, must be counted. The follow- 
ing measurements should be made, and the first five set down in square 
feet for each room: 

1. Area of walls exposed to outdoor air or unheated space (subtract areas of 
windows and exterior doors). 

2. Area of ceiling (if any) exposed to outdoor air or unheated space. 

3. Area of floor (if any) exposed to outdoor air or unheated space. 

4. Area of roof (if any). 

5. Area of windows and exterior doors. 

6. The volume of the room in cubic feet (obtained by multiplying the number 
of square feet in the floor by the height of the ceiling) ; or 

6a. The length in feet of the crack around exterior doors and windows, includ- 
ing the crack in the middle of double-hung wooden windows. 

408 New Houses from Old 

The measurements set down under Nos. 1 to 5 are multiplied by the 
respective coefficients of transmission iU) for the wall, ceiling, roof, floor, 
and doors and windows. The values of U for various types of construction 
are given in the Appendix. The value of U for single-glazed windows is 
1.13. This can be reduced by one-half if the windows are equipped with 
storm windows in cold weather. The same value is commonly used for the 
total area of exterior doors, including the glass, and this again can be 
reduced by one-half if the door is equipped with a storm door. The result 
of each of these separate calculations is then multiplied by the difference 
between what is called the inside design temperature and the outside design 

The inside design temperature is nothing more or less than the tempera- 
ture you wish to maintain in your house. Seventy degrees Fahrenheit is 
usual, although some homeowners prefer 72 °F. The outside design tempera- 
ture must be based on local weather records. Recommended outside design 
temperatures for the region can be obtained from the nearest office of the 
Federal Housing Administration. Temperature records can be obtained from 
the nearest branch of the Weather Bureau or from publications issued by 
the Weather Bureau, which are on file in most public libraries. 

The measurements under 6 (or 6a) are used to estimate the quantity 
of outdoor air that will enter the room. Two methods, known respectively 
as the air-change method and the crack method, are used by designers in 
this part of the heat-loss calculation. The first assumes that the amount of 
air that enters around the doors and windows will produce a certain num- 
ber of changes of the air in the room per hour. The second is based on an 
actual measurement of the cracks around the doors and windows and as- 
sumes that a certain number of cubic feet of air will enter each hour 
through each foot of crack. Neither method is precise, but the second method 
is obviously more accurate. However, the air-change method is sufficiently 
accurate for rooms with an average amount of window area, say not more 
than 25 per cent of the area of the exposed wall. It should not be used for 
rooms such as sunrooms, where the window area is considerably above 
average. Acceptable values for the air-change method are as follows: rooms 
with windows on one side, one change; two adjacent sides, one and one-half 
changes; two opposite sides, two changes; three sides, two and one-half 
changes; rooms 'such as entrance halls with frequently used exterior doors, 
three changes. 

Sufficiently accurate values for use in estimating the flow in cubic feet 
per foot of crack in estimating by the crack method are as follows: well- 
fitted wooden windows, 40; poorly fitted wooden windows, 110; metal- 
casement windows, 40; well-fitted doors, 80; poorly fitted doors, 150. The 



eifects of weather stripping and storm windows and doors are less pro- 
nounced when they are applied to well-fitted windows or doors than when 
they are applied to poorly fitted ones, because the volume of air to be cut 
down is so much greater in the latter case. The values given above can be 
reduced by approximately one-third in the first case and two-thirds in the 
second case when either weather stripping or well-fitted storm windows or 
doors are to be used; but they should not be further reduced because both 
weather stripping and storm windows or doors are to be installed. 

If the air-change method is used in calculating the air infiltration, the 
quantity of heat that will be required to warm the outdoor air that enters 
the room is found by the following computation: 

r cubic contents"] 
L of the room J 

"the difference between 
inside design temper- 
ature and outside 
design temperature 


the number of 
changes per 


If the crack method is used, the quantity of heat is found by the following 
computation : 

the number of cubic feet 
estimated to enter the 
. room in one hour 

rthe temperature! 
L difference J 


Following is an actual heat-loss calculation for a second-floor bedroom, 
with windows in one wall, in a house located in a region where there was a 
difference of 70°F. between the outside and inside design temperatures. 

1. Net area of exposed wall = 100 sq. ft. Value of U for frame 
wall with clapboard siding, wood sheathing, and plaster on wood lath 
on interior surface (Appendix, Table 1) = 0.25. 

100 X 0.25 X 70 == 1,750 

2. Area of ceiHng exposed to unheated attic = 180 sq. ft. Value 
of U for frame ceiling plastered on wood lath and floored attic 
(Appendix, Table 5) = 0.28. 

180 X 0.28 X 70 = 3,528 

3. Area of exposed floor = 0. 

4. Area of roof = 0. 

5. Area of single glazed windows = 20 sq. ft. 
Value of U for single glass = 1.13. 

20 X 1.13 X 70 = 1,582 

6. Volume of the room = 1,440 cu. ft. 
Air changes per hour = 1. 

1,440 X 1 X 70 ^ 55.2 = 1,826 

Calculated hourly heat loss = 8,686 B.t.u 


New Houses from Old 

Fig. 24.4 
Dimensions and Heat-transfer Capacities of Radiators 

Height, inches 






Three-tube (4% in. wide) 

Radiation per section, square feet 
Heat- transfer capacity : 

Steam, per section 

Hot water, per section 













Four- tube (6%6 ^^- wide) 

Radiation per section, square feet 
Heat-transfer capacity : 

Steam, per section 

Hot water, per section 













Five-tube (8 in. wide) 

Radiation per section, square feet 
Heat- transfer capacity : 

Steam, per section 

Hot water, per section 













Six-tube (9 13^1 6 in. wide) 

Radiation per section, square feet 
Heat-transfer capacity : 

Steam, per section 

Hot water, per section 










Radiator, convector, and register sizes. There are usually two problems 
in selecting radiators: one to fit the dimensions of the radiator to the space 
that is available, the other to obtain adequate heat-transfer capacity. Cast- 
iron radiators are manufactured in sections, and the complete radiator is 
made up by combining enough sections to give it the necessary heating 
capacity. The assembling is done by the manufacturer or dealer. Radiator 
sections are made in a variety of standard widths and heights, some of 
which are shown in Fig. 24.4. In most makes of radiators, each section 
contributes 2^2 in. to the length of the radiator; thus a radiator containing 
ten sections will be 25 in. long, to which length a minimum of 6 in. should 

Heating 411 

be added to allow space for the valves. The heat-transfer capacity per hour 
of a steam radiator is taken as 240 B.t.u. per sq. ft. and of a hot-water 
radiator in an open gravity system as 160 B.t.u. per sq. ft. (In closed hot- 
water systems, and particularly in systems with forced circulation, higher 
water temperatures can be used, consequently the radiation has a higher 
heating capacity, which may run from 200 to 240 B.t.u. per sq. ft., depending 
on the design of the system.) The required number of sections for the 
radiator is found by multiplying the square feet of radiation in each section 
by 240 for steam or 160 for hot water and dividing the product into the 
calculated heat loss for the room. 

As an example, a steam radiator will be selected for the room whose heat 
loss is calculated on page 409. The radiator is to be fitted under a window 
where the maximum height is 26 in. The desirable length is about 34 in. 
Allowing 6 in. for the valves on the two ends, there are only 29 in. available 
for the sections. Twelve sections would require a space 30 in. long, but 
eleven sections require only 27^ in. Running down the column for sections 
26 in. high in Fig. 24.4, it is quickly seen that no size smaller than the five- 
tube will furnish the heat-transfer capacity that is needed. The number of 
tubes refers to the number of internal passages in the section. Thus the 
radiator sketched in Fig. 24.5 is made up of four-tube sections. 

The dimensions of convectors are not standardized to the same extent 
as the dimensions of radiators, but they are made in a variety of sizes. 
The heating capacities of convectors are usually described in EDR, but in 
a few catalogues they are given in Mbh. 

In warm-air heating systems the capacity of the leader pipe or riser that 
supplies the register is calculated instead of the dimensions of the register. 
The standard method of making these calculations for gravity warm-air sys- 
tems is described in the National Warm Air Heating and Air Conditioning 
Association's Gravity Code and Manual. If a copy of this publication is 
not available to you, the following method quoted from a publication of 
the Federal Housing Administration will give satisfactory results. 

1. First-story baseboard or floor registers: 

T, J 1 , . . . , B.t.u. hourly heat loss 

nouna-leader pipe area m square mciies = — — —^ ——j 

130 — 4£, — 1.5L 

2. Second-story baseboard registers: 

Tj , 1 11 1 • -1 B.t.u. hourly heat loss 

Kectangular wall-stack area m square inches = — — -—=, — — 

284 — 13£i — oL 

in which: 

L = total equivalent feet of run as follows: 

Each foot of leader pipe from furnace to boot = IL 

412 New Houses from Old 

Each foot of horizontal duct at other than basement level: 
Area not less than calculated stack area = 1.5L 
Area not less than calculated leader pipe area = IL 

E — number of equivalent elbows as follows: 

Each direction change occurring in horizontal or vertical run between fur- 
nace and register box shall be considered at its equivalent E value as follows: 

Each direction change greater than 45 °F. and not greater than 90 °F. = 

Each direction change greater than 30°F. and not greater than 45°F. = 

Each direction change greater than 15°F. and not greater than 30°F. = 

Direction changes less than 15 °F. shall be disregarded. 

Fig. 24.5. — Ten-section radiator. 

If the pipe or riser supplies registers in two adjacent rooms, its area is 
determined by the sum of the heat loss from both rooms. The dimensions 

Heating 413 

of ducts and registers in forced warm-air systems depends on the bonnet 
temperature of the furnace and also on the volume of air that is circulated 
per minute by the fan, hence they must be calculated for the particular 
system. Methods of making the calculations are described in the American 
Society of Ventilating Engineers' Guide and in the National Warm Air 
Heating and Air Conditioning Association's Code and Manual for the Design 
of Warm Air Winter Air Conditioning Systems. 

Capacities of boilers and furnaces. The first step in finding the required 
capacity of the boiler or furnace is to add together the calculated heat losses 
of all the separate heated areas in the house. The boiler or furnace must 
also have an additional capacity to supply the heat that is lost from the 
pipes or ducts. A rough way of estimating this loss is to increase the calcu- 
lated heat loss from the house by 25 per cent. If the boiler or furnace is to 
be used to heat hot water for household use, 6,000 B.t.u. per hr. should 
be allowed for this. Designers sometimes include another factor called 
"pickup." This is excess capacity that permits the heat generator to raise 
the temperature of the structure quickly when the system is put into oper- 
ation in cold weather. The 25 per cent increase that has been mentioned 
to provide for piping losses will also provide sufficient pickup in most 
houses that will be occupied during cold weather. However, if the house 
you are remodeling will be used as a week-end home in cold weather, the 
boiler or furnace should have enough excess capacity to provide a quick 
pickup. Doubling the calculated heat loss from the house will not provide 
too much capacity if you wish to warm up a cold house rapidly. 

The capacities or "ratings" of boilers are indicated in various ways in 
catalogues. Some manufacturers describe capacities in terms of net ratings. 
In such cases the manufacturer has estimated the average heat loss in the 
piping but usually has not included an allowance for the heating of domestic 
hot water. Sometimes the ratings are given in such terms as "actual load." 
Descriptions of this kind are somewhat ambiguous, but usually they do 
not include any allowances for piping losses or water heating. Some manu- 
facturers state clearly the number of square feet of steam radiation and 
the number of square feet of water radiation that the boiler will supply. 
The essential point in selecting a boiler from a catalogue is to understand 
exactly what is meant by the stated rating. 

Gravity warm-air furnaces are usually rated in catalogues in terms of the 
maximum number of square inches of leader pipe area that they will supply. 
However, some manufacturers state ratings in terms of the net output at 
the registers. Occasionally, particularly in connection with floor furnaces 
and pipeless furnaces, the heating capacity will be described in terms of 
the number of cubic feet of space that the furnace will heat under average 


New Houses from Old 

conditions. Net output at the registers is the most satisfactory type of rating, 
since the selection of a furnace that is correctly described in these terms 
is a simple matter of choosing a size whose net output matches the calcu- 
lated heat loss from the house. 

At one time coal-burning warm-air furnaces were rated according to their 
grate area, but it has been established that the amount of heating surface 
in the furnace is also an important factor in determining the output. The 
heating surfaces are classified as primary or secondary. The primary sur- 
face is exposed to the fire or to its light, whereas the secondary surface is 
the part that receives its heat from the hot gases that result from the burning 
of the fuel rather than directly from the fire. 

If the secondary heating surface in the furnace has an area five times or 
more than the grate area and the ratio of total heating surface to the grate 
area is 15:1 or higher, the maximum net register output rating per hour 
can be calculated by multiplying the total heating surface in square feet 
by 1,785. If the furnace has no secondary heating surface or if the secondary 
heating surface is less than five times the grate area, the Federal Housing 
Administration permits the net register output rating to be calculated as 

Fig. 24.6 

B.t.u. per square 


B.t.u. per square 

inch of grate area 

inch of grate area 

























* Ratio of total heating surface to grate area. 

Unfortunately, information about the ratio of heating surface to grate 
area and the proportions of heating surface that are primary and secondary 
are not always shown in manufacturers' catalogues, but the information 
can be obtained in most instances by writing directly to the manufacturer. 

The ratings of forced warm-air furnaces, especially furnaces with integral 
automatic fueling systems, are usually stated clearly in catalogues in terms 
of net output. The number of cubic feet of air that is circulated per minute 
by fan is also usually stated. 

Heating 415 

Capacities of fueling systems. Fuel must be burned in the boiler or fur- 
nace at a rate that will produce sufficient heat to offset heat losses both from 
the heating system and from the house. Losses from the heating system 
itself are considerable, since they include flue losses. The maximum burning 
rates of coal stokers are always stated in catalogues. Since in determining 
the ratings of boilers or furnaces it is usually assumed that IY2 lb. of fuel 
will be burned per square foot of grate per hour, the stoker should have 
a maximum feeding rate that is not less than seven and one-half times the 
grate area. The burning rate of oil burners is stated in catalogues in gallons 
per hour. The required size of the burner is easily calculated by assuming 
that the burning of 1 gal. of oil will generate 139,000 B.t.u., about 65 per 
cent of which will be delivered to the radiators or registers. Most makes 
and types of gas burners have been tested by the American Gas Association, 
and official ratings have been issued for them. These ratings are stated in 
catalogues and also are indicated on labels that are attached to the equip- 

Installation of Heating Systems 

A good heating system requires a considerable investment, but it will 
keep the house warm and will operate efficiently only if it is designed for 
the house and the climate and if it is correctly installed. Mistakes in either 
respect are usually expensive to correct, especially if changes in piping 
that has been covered up in the walls are necessary. In many localities the 
installation must be made so that it conforms to the provisions of the 
building code. For these reasons, both the design and installation should 
be done by experienced men whenever this is possible. It is well, however, 
for you to know the chief characteristics and requirements of each type of 
system so that you can decide for yourself what kind of system you want. 
Dealers who have local agencies for particular makes cannot be expected 
to give impartial advice about other makes and types or even about those 
that they sell. It is also well to know in a general way how the system you 
select should be installed even though the work itself is done by a con- 
tractor. If, in your case, it is not possible to have the heating system de- 
signed and installed by experts, the advice of the authors is that you select 
one of the simpler types of systems. 

The one-pipe steam system is the easiest to install in most remodeled 
houses. A simple guide to its design and installation is the Institute of 
Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers' I-B-R Installation Guide: One-pipe 
Steam-heating Systems for Buildings Having a Heat Loss Not Exceeding 
92,640 B.t.u. per Hour. Gravity warm-air heating systems are not difficult 

416 New Houses from Old 

to install in one-story houses that have basements or in multistory houses 
if other remodeling operations require stripping of the interior partitions. 
Manufacturers of warm-air heating systems, mail-order houses, and other 
dealers in warm-air heating systems will often furnish installation instruc- 
tions for gravity warm-air heating systems purchased from them. Design 
principles for most types of systems are also explained in the American 
Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers' Guide. 

Repair and Modernization of Existing Systems 

An old heating system that does not heat the house adequately may be 
failing because of some mechanical defect. Although each type of system 
is subject to special defects, there are some defects that may be found in 
several types of systems. These will be discussed first. 

If the fire in a boiler or furnace that uses solid fuel does not burn well, 
the flue may be too small, or it may be obstructed, or the chimney may not 
be tall enough. The breeching (smoke pipe) should be the same diameter 
at the point where it enters the chimney as it is where it is attached to the 
boiler or furnace. If its size has been reduced between the two points, this 
may indicate the trouble. Unfortunately, it usually indicates also that the 
flue in the chimney is too small. Boilers and furnaces are designed for a 
specific flue area, and any reduction in area will reduce the rate at which 
a solid fuel can be burned in them if the burning depends on a natural 
draft. Bituminous coal produces a greater volume of flue gases than anthra- 
cite coal or coke; consequently a heat generator that was performing satis- 
factorily with one of the latter fuels may prove to be a poor heater with 
bituminous coal because the flue in the chimney is not large enough. 

Clogging of a flue with soot or fly ash or with any other kind of obstruc- 
tion will also reduce the draft. Sometimes the clogging or restriction is not 
in the flue but in the passages for flue gases within the boiler or furnace 
itself. These can be reached through a cleanout door on all domestic boilers 
and most furnaces. They are easily cleaned with a scraper and wire brush. 
The breeching often becomes laden with soot and fly ash. It can be cleaned 
by taking it apart and dumping out the contents. Holes in the breeching and 
leaks around the chimney will also reduce the draft. In fact, defects of this 
kind should always be repaired whether the draft is satisfactory or not, for 
they are serious fire hazards. A perforated breeching should be replaced. 
Leaks where the smoke pipe enters the chimney can usually be repaired 
with asbestos, which is moistened with water and plastered around the pipe. 
However, if the crack is wide, it may be necessary to put a new thimble 
in the flue. 

Heating 417 

When a burner or furnace that was burning coal or coke under natural 
draft is converted to automatic fueling, the actual heating capacity of the 
unit is not increased because this depends on the amount of heating surface 
through which the heat of the fire is transferred to the air, steam, or water 
in the heating system. However, the amount of heat produced may be in- 
creased, because the burning of fuel is no longer throttled down by the 
flue. A gas burner does not require so large a flue to carry off the products 
of combustion as a coal-burning furnace or boiler. Coal stokers and most 
domestic oil burners include a fan that produces a forced draft. Therefore, 
in some cases, one way of getting more heat from a boiler or furnace that 
was performing poorly because the natural draft was inadequate is to con- 
vert the fueling system to an automatic one. 

If you buy a house for remodeling that already has an automatic fueling 
system, the system may require repair or adjustment. The contact points on 
the room thermostat sometimes become dirty. They can be cleaned easily; 
the case is removed and a piece of stiff paper, such as a thin calling card, is 
run back and forth between them. This should be done carefully in order 
not to bend the strips to which the points are attached. If the primary con- 
trol is installed on the smoke pipe, it can usually be removed by loosening 
one screw that is placed in the collar mounted directly on the pipe. This 
screw is loosened, then the part of the control that is inside the pipe can 
be withdrawn. Removing the control from the mounting will reveal either 
a flat spiral spring or a U-shaped piece of flat metal. The soot is brushed 
off this element with a small brush or scraped off with the end of a screw 
driver. The electrodes on the centrifugal type of oil burner are usually 
plainly visible inside the boiler or furnace. Soot and grease accumulate on 
this type of electrode sometimes, but they can be easily removed by cleaning 
the electrodes with a brush or screw driver after first shutting off the burner. 
The cleaning must be done carefully in order not to disturb the position of 
the electrodes. The electrodes for pressure- or gun-type burners are usually 
located in front of the nozzle and cannot be reached without removing the 
burner assembly. Maintenance operations on automatic controls other than 
these are best done by a serviceman. If you decide to attempt them yourself, 
the best procedure is first to obtain a service manual from the manufac- 
turer of the burner. A general manual on oil-burner maintenance and repairs 
is included under Useful Books and Pamphlets. 

In many old houses with steam or hot-water heating systems, the radiators 
are painted with aluminum or bronze paint. Since the rate of heat emission 
of an aluminum-painted radiator is reduced by more than 10 per cent in 
comparison with a radiator painted with a flat, cream-tinted paint, the room 
heated by the radiator may not receive enough heat in cold weather. To 

418 New Houses from Old 

correct the trouble, it is necessary only to repaint the radiators (Chapter 

Sometimes — in fact, rather often — the house may be poorly heated in cold 
weather because the capacity of the boiler or furnace is less than the heat 
loss from the system plus the heat loss from the house. The way to find 
out whether this is the case is to make a heat-loss calculation for the house. 
If the calculation shows that the furnace or boiler is undersized, two ways 
of correcting the trouble are available. One is to reduce the heat loss from the 
house by the application of storm windows, insulation, and weather strip- 
ping; the other is to enlarge the capacity of the heating plant. Most fur- 
naces cannot be increased in capacity, and the same is true of some makes 
of round boilers. However, most rectangular boilers can be increased in 
capacity by adding one or more sections. Before this is undertaken, how- 
ever, it should be ascertained that the flue is adequate for a larger boiler. 
Adding another section requires a larger base, a larger jacket if the boiler 
has a sheet-metal jacket, additional grate bars if the boiler is to be hand- 
fired, and usually some changes in the steam piping above the boiler. The 
operation should be in charge of an experienced heating man. 

A special problem sometimes arises when a hand-fired boiler or furnace 
is converted to automatic fueling. The heating capacity of the boiler or 
furnace and the heating requirements of the house are found to be con- 
siderably mismatched. The solution when the boiler or furnace is undersized 
is indicated in the discussion above, but a different solution is needed when 
the boiler or furnace is oversized — for example, if the boiler is part of a 
steam system and has a capacity to supply 600 sq. ft. of radiation although 
only 300 sq. ft. are connected to it. If the burner is sized for the radiation, 
steam will be produced slowly, because the flame will not be large enough 
to heat rapidly the excessive amount of water in the boiler. On the other 
hand, if the burner is fitted to the boiler, fuel will be wasted in mild weather 
because the loss of heat from the boiler will be out of proportion to the 
amount of heat needed in the house. 

In a steam system, the best solution is to make the fueling system larger 
than is needed for the radiation but not so large as is indicated by the size 
of the boiler and to convert the system to a vapor system so that the water 
in the boiler will turn to steam at a lower temperature. In a hot-water sys- 
tem, the best method is to fit the burner to the radiation and to add a circulat- 
ing pump so that the water can be circulated regardless of its temperature. 
In a warm-air system, the excess capacity of the furnace does not involve 
excessive heat losses in the basement because the air that is within the fur- 
nace at any one moment does not hold a large amount of heat. 

Warm-ail- systems. If any trace of smoke can be seen in the air that issues 

Heating 419 

from the warm-air registers of this type of system or if the odor of burning 
fuel is present in it, this is positive evidence that there is a leak in the inner 
shell of the furnace. If the furnace is steel, the defect will probably be a 
burned-out spot, and the only repair that is worth its cost is replacement 
of the furnace. However, the inner shell of an old furnace is more likely 
to be made of cast-iron sections joined together with cemented joints. If 
there are cracks in one or more of these sections, the best method of repair 
is to replace the defective sections with new ones obtained from the manu- 
facturer of the furnace. If there are no visible cracks, the defect is probably 
in the cemented joints. These joints can be repaired after a fashion by 
digging out the old cement that can be reached and by filling the outer ring 
of the joint with fresh furnace cement; but it is much better to take the 
furnace down completely. All of the old cement can then be cleaned out 
and the joints made again with fresh cement. When the furnace is put to- 
gether again, it is important to make the joints between the two shells of 
the furnace and the basement floor airtight. Warped or broken grates should 
be replaced. If the furnace is steel, the fire pot will have a lining of refractory 
material. This, too, sometimes needs replacement. A new lining should be 
obtained from the manufacturer and installed according to his directions. 

Dust and refuse should be cleaned from both the cold- and warm-air 
piping before the furnace is put together again. If the warm-air pipes that 
run in the open in the basement are covered with a thin layer of asbestos 
paper, heat loss from the pipes into the basement can be reduced— if the 
surface of the piping is still bright — -by stripping the paper off. This seems 
to be an illogical procedure, but it is a fact that the bright surface of tinned 
sheet metal is more effective in cutting down the heat loss from the pipes if it 
is left uncovered. 

An excellent way of improving the performance of a gravity warm-air 
heating system is to convert it to a forced-air system. Various manufacturers 
produce units for this purpose. A unit should be selected that is the right 
size for the system and installed according to the manufacturer's directions. 
The simplest type of conversion unit includes only a fan and its controls, 
but units that include a dust filter are not much more expensive and are 
worth the extra cost. 

Dampers are usually present in the warm-air pipes near the furnace; but 
if they are absent, dampers must be installed so that the system can be 
balanced. Dampers for a forced-air heating system should have some kind 
of locking device on the outside of the pipe so that the flow of air will not 
change the setting of the damper. 

Steam systems. The advisability of having a heating system tested before 
a house is purchased has been pointed out in Chapter 4. If it has not been 

420 New Houses from Old 

possible to make such a test, a steam system should nevertheless be tested 
before it is placed in operation or before its modernization is planned. The 
first thing to test is the rehability of the water-level gauge (water glass). 
In practically all installations there are two small valves (pet cocks) near 
the glass — one below it and one above it. Open the bottom pet cock, then 
open the valve in the line of pipe from the water supply to the boiler. 
Allow water to run into the boiler. When water begins to run out of the 
lower pet cock, close it and open the upper one. If the water-level gauge is 
in working order, water will then rise in the glass until it reaches the level 
of the top pet cock and will then flow out of the top pet cock. As soon as this 
occurs, close the valve in the water-supply line and close the pet cock. If 
the water does not rise in the glass, the assembly of piping that encloses 
the water glass should be dismantled and cleaned. Steam boilers can be 
operated temporarily without the water-level gauge by testing the water 
level with the pet cocks, but it is better to have the gauge in working order. 

Before starting the fire, drain enough water out of the boiler to bring 
the water level in the glass to the halfway mark or a little below it. The 
next thing to test is the safety valve. Start the fire, and soon after the water 
in the water glass begins to surge (oscillate), raise the handle on the safety 
valve. The handle should move fairly easily, and there should be a good 
flow of steam from the valve. You may not see the steam, but you will hear 
and feel it. If the handle will not move or if no steam comes from the valve 
when the handle is lifted, put out the fire and replace the valve with a new 
one before operating the boiler. 

Steam gauges on house-heating boilers are often somewhat inaccurate but 
are seldom completely out of order unless they are obviously smashed or 
broken. Soon after the water in the glass begins to surge, the steam gauge 
should indicate pressure. Run the pressure up to about 2 lb. and inspect the 
boiler for steam leaks. Steam will begin to escape from a bad leak when 
only a few ounces of pressure have been generated, and it will escape from 
a small leak with enough force to be heard clearly when the pressure reg- 
isters in pounds. Don't mistake the sound of water boiling in the boiler for 
a steam leak. Escaping steam produces a distinct hiss. 

A leaky boiler should be repaired only by taking it down and replacing 
the defective section. No attempt should be made to repair the leak by intro- 
ducing into the boiler water some compound that is claimed to stop boiler 
leaks. Special tools are required to dismantle a boiler, and the job is not 
one that can be done by many amateurs. In most cases when the boiler is 
found to be defective, it will be advisable to replace the entire boiler, par- 
ticularly if an oil burner or other type of automatic fueling system is to 
be installed. 

Heating 421 

Old steam systems often hammer when the heat is first turned on. If the 
hammer originates in a radiator, the radiator may be sloped away from 
the supply valve due to improper installation or settlement of the floor. 
The remedy for this condition is to place small pieces of wood or metal 
under the legs of the radiator at the opposite end to the supply valve. The 
other possible defect is a worn disk or gasket in the valve, which permits 
some steam to enter the radiator when the valve is closed and causes the 
radiator to fill with water. The cure is to replace the disk or gasket with 
a new one. Steam-supply valves often develop leaks around the stem be- 
cause the stem packing has deteriorated. This condition is easily corrected 
by unscrewing the small nut under the wheel, removing the old packing, 
and replacing it with new. Suitable packing material can be obtained at 
hardware stores and from plumbing-supply dealers. 

Hammers sometimes originate in the steam piping. The usual cause is 
sagging of the pipe so that it no longer slopes toward the boiler, and it can 
be cured by realigning the pipe and supporting it so that it has a uniform 
pitch toward the boiler. Sometimes hammers in the piping come from in- 
adequately sized pipe or fittings, and this cause should be suspected if the 
piping is properly sloped. The only remedy in such a case is to install new 
pipe or fittings of proper size. 

Old steam systems are often poorly balanced — that is, certain radiators 
in the house will heat up long before steam enters the others. If the steam 
main in the basement is divided into two or more branches, there should 
be a vent valve on the end of each branch just beyond the point where the 
branch is connected to a vertical riser. If the radiators that are supplied 
from one branch remain cold while the radiators attached to the other branch 
become warm, the trouble is probably with the vent valve on the branch. 
However, if only some of the radiators attached to a branch are slow to 
heat, the fault is either in the piping to these radiators or in the vent valves 
attached to them. Usually it is in the vent valves, and adjustable vent valves 
on the radiators should correct the condition. Sometimes adjustable valves 
on the radiators that heat slowly are enough. In other cases adjustable 
valves on all the radiators in the system are necessary. If the vent valve on 
the radiator drips water or permits warm steam to escape, it must usually 
be replaced. However, vent valves can sometimes be reconditioned by soak- 
ing them for a day or two in clear (not leaded) gasoline. 

Radiators that have developed leaks between the sections can only be 
repaired by dealers and heating contractors who have the special tools that 
are necessary for taking the sections apart. Leaks at the coupling between 
the supply valve and the radiator usually occur because the radiator has been 
shifted on the floor, and they can be corrected by loosening the connection. 

422 New Houses from Old 

lining up the radiator, then tightening the joint by turning the nut with a 
large flat-nosed wrench. 

The performance of a one-pipe steam system can often be improved by 
converting it into a vacuum or vapor system. This is done by placing vent 
valves of the vacuum type on the radiators and by replacing the conven- 
tional packed supply valves with packless valves. All the vent valves and 
all the supply valves in the system must be changed. A partial replacement 
will be wasted money, because the system will not operate as a vapor system 
unless it is airtight. One-pipe steam systems can be converted to two-pipe 
systems, but usually the expense of such a change is not justified in re- 
modeling. The second line of piping that is necessary to the radiators can- 
not be installed without opening up the floors and sometimes also the walls. 
The new radiator valves and thermostatic traps that are required in a two- 
pipe system are an additional expense. 

Hot-water systems. A leaky hot-water boiler will betray itself by a visible 
water leak either inside or outside the boiler. A leak inside will produce a 
wet, rusty streak that can easily be seen when there is no fire in the boiler. 
A leak outside will cause water to appear at the base of the boiler at the 
bottom of the sheet-metal jacket. Leaky hot-water boilers should be re- 
paired by replacing the defective section or sections. 

Since the water flows through a hot-water radiator, slight changes in the 
level of the radiator usually cause no trouble. When a hot-water radiator 
fails to heat up, the trouble is usually an accumulation of air at the top 
of the radiator. The air is let out by opening the small air-vent valve on the 
radiator and by keeping it open until water begins to run out. The radiator 
supply valves may develop leaks, and leaks also sometimes occur between 
the radiator sections and at the connections between the radiator and the 
piping. The remedies for these leaks have been described under Steam 

The usual change that is made in remodeling an old hot-water system is 
to substitute a closed expansion tank for the old open tank. The closed tank 
is installed near the boiler and above it. It is connected to the warm side 
of the piping usually by means of a tee inserted in one of the hot-water 
supply lines. It must also be connected to the water-supply system through 
an automatic supply valve. The old tank is removed, and the line to it is 
sealed off with a cap or a plug. Another change that is often made is to 
place a motor-driven pump in the return line. This converts the system from 
gravity circulation to forced circulation and gives the system all the ad- 
vantages of the forced hot-water heating system. 

Combination, or mixed, systems. Since it is difficult to properly humidify 
the air when the house is heated by a hot-water system or by a steam system 

Heating 423 

and impossible to incorporate air infiltration in these heating systems, some 
homeowners go to the expense of removing the old heating system entirely 
and substituting a forced-air system for it. Although there is nothing to be 
said against doing this if you want a forced warm-air system and can stand 
the expense of installing it, it is quite feasible to convert partially either a 
steam or hot-water system to forced air. A forced-air system that includes 
filters, a humidifier, and a fan is designed for the first floor of the house. 
The radiators are removed from the first floor, and their equivalent in radia- 
tion is enclosed in a cabinet in the basement that is placed so that the filtered 
air will pass through it. The heat is supplied to the unit by the original 
boiler. Rooms on floors above the first still get their heat from radiators in 
the rooms. Although such a system should be designed for the specific house, 
neither its design nor its installation is difficult, and it has the great advan- 
tage of providing the main living quarters in the house with filtered air. 
Another advantage is that it removes radiators from the living space. 


Inasmuch as it is almost impossible to build the average house so that 
the air that infiltrates through the walls and around the doors and windows 
in an hour is less than the volume of air in the house at any moment, the 
ventilation of dwelling houses is not a problem, and usually no means of 
ventilating with outside air in cold weather is provided. The chief exception 
occurs in forced warm-air heating systems. Some designers incorporate in 
these systems a duct that takes some air from the outside. The duct is fitted 
with a damper so that the intake of outside air can be suspended in severe 
weather or at any other time that the homeowner does not wish to buy the 
fuel to heat outdoor air. Ventilation of the kitchen is a separate matter that 
has been discussed in Chapter 8. 

Ventilation of the house is needed more in the summertime and even then 
is needed chiefly for cooling. An excellent and relatively inexpensive kind 
of summer cooling and ventilation is an attic fan. In hot weather the win- 
dows and doors of the house are kept closed during the day, but at night 
the windows are opened and the fan is switched on. The fan draws the 
heated air out of the house, and the air is replaced with cool night air drawn 
in through the windows. Such an arrangement has one disadvantage. If the 
house is located along a dusty road or busy street, much dust is drawn into 
the house along with the air. A recently introduced air filter designed to be 
placed in windows appears to offer an inexpensive solution to this problem. 

Humidity. Humidity in houses is something that is discussed widely, but 
there is very little accurate information on its relation to health. It is cer- 

424 New Houses from Old 

tain that the amount of moisture in the air of the average house with a 
central heating system is extremely low in cold weather. The reason for this 
is that the air in the house at a given instant is really outdoor air which 
has been introduced only a short time before and which has been warmed 
up by the heating system. When the temperature of air is raised, its relative 
humidity goes down and its capacity to take up moisture increases. What- 
ever its effect on human health, dry air undoubtedly causes joints in floor- 
ing and other woodwork to open up. On the other hand, if much moisture 
is added to the air, single-glazed windows will fog over in cold weather. 

Probably a relative humidity of between 40 and 60 per cent is desirable 
in houses, but this degree is difficult to obtain. It requires the continuous 
evaporation of fairly large amounts of water. The most effective method of 
humidification is considered to be the spraying of water into a moving 
current of air. Spraying devices are used in many forced warm-air systems, 
but none has been developed for house steam or hot-water systems. Humid- 
ifiers of other types have been developed for use in connection with radiators 
and convectors in steam and hot-water systems, but few of them evaporate 
very much water. If they must be filled by hand, they are usually neglected 
after a short time. On the other hand, if they are filled automatically from 
the radiator, the cost of the individual controlling device is considerable 
and there are other disadvantages. A number of humidifying devices that are 
entirely separate from the heating system have been introduced, but none 
has yet become widely established as standard household equipment. If your 
house has a forced warm-air heating system with a well-designed humidifier, 
make use of it. Otherwise, until there is more conclusive evidence that a 
high relative humidity is essential to health, the obtaining of it in your 
remodeled house should probably not concern you much unless you have 
strong personal feelings on the subject. 

Air conditioning. Air conditioning is undoubtedly desirable in excessively 
hot weather, but the cost of the equipment and the expense of operating it 
rule it out for most homeowners. Satisfactory air conditioning is expensive 
in most regions because mere cooling of the air is not enough to produce 
comfort. When warm air that contains an average amount of water vapor 
is cooled, its relative humidity goes up and its capacity for more moisture 
goes down. Perspiration will not evaporate at the usual rate from the skins 
of persons moving about in it. In spite of the lower temperature, there is no 
feeling of comfort, because the skin becomes clammy and clothes get damp. 
In order to produce a comfortable humidity, some water vapor must be 
removed from the air. This can be done by cooling the air to a temperature 
at which some of the water vapor will condense, but this temperature is so 
low under usual weather conditions that the cooled air must then be heated. 

Heating 425 

Water vapor can also be removed by passing the air through a chemical 
compound, such as silica gel, that has a high affinity for water vapor; but 
eventually the chemical becomes saturated with water and must be heated 
to regenerate it. Either method requires elaborate equipment and considerable 
operating cost. 

However, in dry climates, satisfactory summer air conditioning can be 
produced with inexpensive equipment. As has already been mentioned, one 
method is to include cooling coils in a forced warm-air heating system and 
to use the fan to circulate the cooled air through the house. If your house 
is located in a dry region, it may not even be necessary to use refrigeration. 
Sometimes sufficient cooling can be obtained by flowing cool water from a 
well or spring through the cooling coils. Another cooling device popular in 
one section of the country is a large box filled with excelsior or wood 
shavings and arranged so that a trickle of water flows through the shavings. 
Air is forced through the damp shavings by means of an electric fan. Since 
the air is excessively dry, it takes up moisture as it passes through the 
box. The heat required for the evaporation is taken from the air itself, and 
the result of the process is a flow of cool air at a comfortable degree of 
relative humidity. 

In humid climates, one- or two-unit air conditioners in individual rooms 
may be worth their cost. These units do not dehumidify the air, but they 
do produce a degree of comfort, particularly on dry, hot days. Compared 
with air-conditioning systems large enough for average houses in humid 
regions, they are inexpensive. 




Insulation of the house is often included in the remodeling program. 
The usual motive is to reduce the annual expenditure for fuel, and insula- 
tion is very effective in this respect. Insulation also makes the house more 
comfortable. The human body is a radiator of heat and, like other radiators, 
loses heat to cooler objects in its vicinity. If the surroundings are not greatly 
lower in temperature, the loss goes on at a moderate rate without discom- 
fort; but if there is a considerable difference, the loss is more rapid and a 
sensation of cold is felt. Insulation in the exterior walls prevents their in- 
side surfaces from becoming much colder than the air in the room. In hot 
weather insulation hinders the passage of heat through the walls into the 
house; hence, if the air in the house is kept cool by air conditioning or by 
ventilating the house only at night when the outdoor air is cool, an in- 
sulated house is more comfortable in hot weather, also. 

Heat Transmission 

Some knowledge of how heat escapes from the house — or enters it — ■ 
will be helpful in understanding insulation. Heat is transferred in three 
ways — by conduction, convection, and radiation. Conduction is best illus- 
trated by the passage of heat along a metal rod. If one end of a copper rod is 
held in a flame, the opposite end quickly becomes too hot to hold. Convec- 
tion can be seen at work in the current of air that issues from a hot-air 
register. In this type of heat transfer the heat is carried from one place 
to another in gases that move bodily. Radiation can be illustrated by the 
warmth that is felt in front of an electric heater. Here the heat passes from 
an emitting body to a receiving body in the form of rays. Heat passes 
through house walls in all three ways — by conduction through the building 
materials of which they are composed, by convection in air currents, and 
by radiation that passes through them in the form of heat rays. 

Heat transmission by conduction can be reduced by incorporating in the 
walls and in roofs or top-floor ceilings materials that are poor heat con- 


Insulation 427 

ductors. Loss by convection can be reduced by any method that reduces 
the rate of air infiltration through the walls. The value of tight sheathing 
and sheathing paper in this respect has been discussed in Chapter 19. A high 
proportion of the air that passes through the walls does so through cracks 
around doorframes and window frames and around doors and windows. 
Calking of the cracks around the frames practically eliminates air leaks at 
these points. Leaks around the doors and windows themselves can be held 
down by proper fitting and by the use of weather stripping and by storm 
windows and doors. Transmission by radiation can be minimized by the 
use of bright-surfaced materials such as metal foils or sheets. Insulating 
materials often operate to reduce heat transmission in more than one way. If 
insulating material whose primary quality is that it is a poor conductor of 
heat is properly installed in a wall, it will also make the wall tighter from 
the standpoint of air infiltration. Filling the spaces in the wall or even 
reducing them in size also reduces the tendency for convection currents to 
form within the wall and to transfer heat from its warm side to its cold side. 

Effectiveness of Insulating Methods 

The relative effectiveness of the various insulating methods is of interest 
in planning and selecting insulation. Unfortunately, every house is an in- 
dividual case, and so many factors, such as the climate of the region, the 
construction of the house, and its exposure to sun and wind, must be taken 
into account that general statements as to possible fuel savings must neces- 
sarily be somewhat inaccurate. Nevertheless, approximations are often used 
in illustrating the fuel saving that can be achieved by insulation. In an 
average house of frame construction, 25 per cent of the heat loss in cold 
weather occurs through the roof or top-floor ceiling, 25 per cent through the 
exterior walls, 25 per cent by conduction through the window glass, and 
25 per cent by air infiltration through the roof or ceiling, through exterior 
walls, and through cracks around doors and windows. 

The heat loss through the roof or top-floor ceiling and through the ex- 
terior walls can be reduced 50 per cent by a 1-in. thickness of fibrous insulat- 
ing material, 64 per cent by a 2-in. thickness, and 70 per cent by a 3-in. thick- 
ness. Storm windows or double-glazed windows will reduce the heat loss 
through the windows by about 50 per cent. The amount that can be saved by 
reduction of air infiltration is more difficult to estimate, because the rate of 
air infiltration depends not only on the tightness of the walls but also on the 
strength of the wind. However, in many old houses air infiltration can be 
reduced to a small fraction of its former rate by the use of sheathing paper 
or tight sheathing, by calking cracks, by good fitting of windows and doors, 

428 New Houses from Old 

and by the installation of weather stripping or well-fitted storm windows. 
Often in remodeling, it is not feasible to insulate the house completely; 
but even partial insulation is worth its cost. For example, the application 
of 3 in. of fill insulation between the joists of an attic ceiling will reduce 
the total heat loss from the house by about 17.5 per cent. If, in addition, 
storm windows are installed, they will further reduce the total heat loss 
by 12.5 per cent. Thus, the annual consumption of fuel can be reduced 
approximately 30 per cent by two relatively inexpensive operations. 

Insulating Materials 

The forms and trade-marked varieties of insulating materials are very 
numerous. Close's Building Insulation lists about 200, and new ones are 
introduced frequently. However, they can be classified into two general 
types — -materials that are poor conductors of heat and materials that are 
good reflectors of heat. 

Materials of the first type usually owe their low heat-conducting qualities 
to the fact that they contain considerable quantities of air that is surrounded 
or trapped so that it cannot flow and thereby transfer heat by convection. 
Mineral materials, such as asbestos, expanded vermiculite, mineral wool, 
gypsum, and spun glass; animal fibers, such as hog hair and cattle hair; 
and plant fibers, such as bagasse, cornstalks, kapok, cotton, cork, and wood 
are all used in one or more makes of house insulation. These materials are 
marketed in a variety of forms — loose fibers, pellets, batts, "quilts," and 
blankets, which do not become structural members of the house frame when 
they are installed, and sheathing board, plaster lath, tile board, and wall- 
board, which are installed as structural members. 

Reflective insulation is made in the form of metal foil and as steel sheets 
that are coated with a corrosion-resistant alloy of lead and tin. The foils 
are supplied in crimped form and also as flat sheets. Also, they are some- 
times applied to one or both surfaces of insulating material of another 
type, as, for example, gypsum board surfaced with aluminum foil. 

The effectiveness of insulating materials is indicated in technical litera- 
ture in terms of their conductivity (symbol k) for heat or their resistance 
(symbol R) to its passage. These and other terms in connection with heat 
transmission are defined in Chapter 24. 

The k values of most loose or pellet types of insulation run from 0.27 to 
about 0.30. An exception is expanded vermiculite, for which various tests 
have indicated k values of 0.38 to 0.48, depending on the size of the granules. 
The k values of batt and blanket types of insulation also run from 0.27 to 
0.30. When insulating materials are compressed, there is usually some loss 

Insulation 429 

in their insulating efficiencies, hence it is not surprising that the k values 
for insulating board (including sheathing, fiberboard lath, and wallboard) 
run about 0.33. K cannot be used in connection with the reflective types of 
insulation, since they are metals with high heat conductivities; but the R 
values for walls in which they are installed with correctly proportioned air 
spaces indicate that their insulating efficiency is about two-thirds the effi- 
ciency of batt or blanket insulation. However, the relative effectiveness of 
these types depends on the method of installation and also on whether the 
surfaces are vertical or horizontal. Exact k and R values for many of the 
types and brands of insulating materials on the market are regularly sup- 
plied in the latest annual edition of the Guide of the American Society of 
Heating and Ventilating Engineers. 

It is important to remember that the lower the k value, the higher the 
efficiency of the material as an insulator, but also that k is determined for 
a 1-in. thickness, whereas many of the insulating boards are less than 1 in. 
thick, and many other types of insulation are several inches thick. K cannot 
be added, but its reciprocal R can be. If a material has a k value of 0.25, 
a 2-in. thickness will have an R value of 8.0, but a ^2 -in. thickness will 
have an R value of only 2. Thus the same degree of insulation can be 
obtained by installing a somewhat greater thickness of a material with a 
relatively high k value as with a smaller thickness of a material with a 
lower k. 

Vapor Barriers 

The air inside a house always contains a considerable amount of water 
in the form of invisible vapor. The capacity of air for water vapor varies 
with its temperature — the warmer the air, the more water vapor it can hold; 
the colder it is, the less it can hold. The moisture that forms on the inside 
of single-glazed windows in cold weather gets there because the warm air 
of the house is cooled when it comes in contact with the glass, and some 
of the vapor in it condenses as water. The same thing sometimes hap- 
pens in exterior walls; that is, the warm air of the house with its load of 
vapor passes outward through the wall, becomes cooled when it reaches the 
inside face of the outer wall covering, and drops part of its moisture. If 
the process goes on long enough, water may accumulate in the wall in 
sufficient quantity to saturate the insulation and damage it, the wall finish, 
and possibly even the house frame. 

The only safeguard that is adequate is the installation of a vapor barrier 
on the inner side of the wall. A vapor barrier is a film or layer of material 
that has a high degree of resistance to the passage of water vapor. Among 


New Houses from Old 

the good vapor barriers are asphalt-saturated paper with a glazed surface, 
duplex paper with a coating of asphalt between the sheets, kraft paper 
with one side coated with glazed asphalt, linoleum, plywood made with 
waterproof (but not water-resistant) adhesives, special paints manufactured 
for vapor sealing, and aluminum paint. Further information about vapor 
barriers, including the formulas of paints found to be good for vapor 
sealing, is given in Rowley, and others. Methods of Moisture Control and 
Their Application to Building Construction. 

Installation of Insulation 

Insulation of the roof. The roof is not usually insulated unless the space 
directly underneath is to be used for living quarters. The reason for this is 
that less material is required and that the operation is considerably simpler 
if "cap" insulation is applied between the joists in the attic floor. 

A sloping roof can be insulated from the underside with batt or blanket 
insulation or with insulation board applied to the roof rafters. There should 
be an air space between the insulation and the underside of the roof cover- 
ing, and a vapor barrier should always be placed on the inward side of 

ROOF — r 




Fig. 25.1. — Roof insulation details. A. Insulation board employed as sheathing. B. 
Insulation board applied to underside of rafters. C, D. Insulating batts or blankets 
applied between rafters. 



the insulation to guard against the development of a "weeping" roof (Chap- 
ter 18) . Blanket types of insulation can be fastened to the underside of roof 
rafters by either of the methods shown in Fig. 25.1. An insulating wall- 
board with a metal foil back is a very good type of insulation for the 
underside of sloping roofs. It is applied with the metal foil toward the 
top of the roof. If the roof must be re-covered, insulating sheathing board 
can be applied to the top side of the rafters as a base for the new roof cover. 
Flat roofs and decks can be insulated either with pellet or loose fiber 
insulation when they are built or by application of an insulation board 
between the sheathing and the roof covering. Insulation of a flat roof already 
built and on which the roof covering is in good condition is best done by 
blowing the insulation in under the sheathing. This type of job must be 
done by a contractor because special machinery is required. 



Fig. 25.2.— Two methods of installing cap insulation in unfloored attic. 

Insulation of the attic. Pellet-type insulation is applied between unfloored 
joists in the attic by pouring it directly from the bags in which it is shipped. 
Loose insulation of the fibrous type (Fig. 25.2) is placed between the joists 
by hand. If the attic has a good finish floor, pellets or loose fibers can be 
blown in under the flooring by a contractor who has the equipment for 
the job. Batt and blanket insulation are also good types for use between 
the joists in an unfloored attic if the joists have standard spacing. Batts 
or blankets can be laid between the joists without nailing. If they contain 
an integral vapor barrier, the barrier is placed downward next to the ceiling 

Insulation of walls. Side walls of frame houses can be insulated by blow- 
ing loose insulation into them. This method, however, introduces a hazard 
of moisture condensation within the walls, unless a vapor barrier is installed 
on the inner side of the wall. Many instances can be cited of houses in 
which insulation was applied this way without a vapor barrier and no 
trouble developed; nevertheless, the danger exists. Any remodeling oper- 
ation that requires opening of the side walls, such as the application of 


New Houses from Old 

new sheathing or siding on the exterior or new plaster or other wall sur- 
facing on the interior, makes it possible to install any form of insulating 
materials that could be used if the house were being built new. The appli- 
cation of insulating sheathing boards and wallboards has been described 
in other parts of this book. Methods of installing other types of insulating 
materials in frame walls are diagramed in Fig. 25.3. These are typical 
methods. Some makes of insulating materials are designed for application 













Fig. 25.3. — Methods of applying insulation to frame walls. 

in special ways. Information about their application should always be ob- 
tained from the manufacturer. 

Loose insulation is sometimes put in side walls by hand as the wall cov- 
ering is applied; for example, if gypsum-board lath is used on the interior 
of the wall, the insulating material is placed by hand behind each panel of 
lath as the wall is covered. Careful packing is necessary in order to fill the 
wall compactly enough to prevent excessive settling of the insulation. On 
the other hand, if the insulation is packed too tightly, it will lose some of 



its insulating value. Because of the wide variation in packing characteristics 
of different kinds of loose insulation, it is best to obtain specific directions 
from the manufacturer when a wall is to be filled this way. 

Insulation is applied only to the inside of solid-masonry house walls, and 
the method and type of material will depend largely on the depth of the 
furring. If the wall has deep furring so that the air space is 3 or 4 in., a 
blanket type of insulation can be applied between the furring in the same 
manner as it is applied to a frame wall. However, the blankets should not 
touch the masonry. The best way to insulate a shallow furred masonry wall 
is to apply a rigid type of insulation to the furring as shown in Fig. 25.4. 
The rigid insulation can be a fiberboard plaster lath, a gypsum board with 
metal-foil backing, or an insulating wallboard. 




Fig. 25.4. — Insulation applied to a solid masonry wall. 

Fig. 25.5. — Floor insulation. If the subfloor can be removed, the insulation may be 
applied as shown in Fig. 25.2. 

Insulation of floors. It is not necessary to insulate floors over heated 
spaces to prevent heat loss through them; but if the floor is over the heating 
plant, insulation is sometimes necessary to protect the finish flooring (Chap- 
ter 22). It is often desirable to insulate a floor the underside of which is 


New Houses from Old 

exposed to cold air, such as the floor of a bedroom that is built over a 
porch or a garage. A satisfactory method of insulating such a floor is to 
use insulating board between the subfloor and the finish floor (Fig. 25.5). 
Floors can also be effectively insulated by applying insulating material to 
their undersides — for example, between the joists or on the joists in a 

Basement floors constructed by any of the methods shown in Fig. 22.16 
usually require no insulation. However, concrete floors that are laid on the 
earth often should be insulated at least at their edges if they are in a part 
of the house that is used for regular living quarters. Such floors have been 
studied by the National Bureau of Standards, and the results of the study 
have been published in its Measurements of Heat Losses from Slab Floors. 


FiG. 25.6. — Staggered studs or joists to reduce sound transmission through a wall 
or ceiling. The layer of insulating material causes a further reduction but is not 
effective alone. 

Sound Insulation 

The best kind of sound insulation comes from planning the house so that 
noisy areas are isolated as much as possible from rooms in which quiet is 
desired. It is not advisable, for example, to locate the children's playroom 
directly over the living room or to locate the bathroom next to the dining 
room. However, such undesirable locations are sometimes unavoidable, and 
then it becomes necessary to construct walls and ceilings so that the trans- 
mission of sound from one room to another is reduced as much as possible. 
It can never be eliminated entirely, because sound passes not only in a 
direct route from the point of origin to the point where it is heard but also 
in indirect routes through the building frame. 

The most effective method of reducing sound transmission that is appli- 
cable to house ceilings and partitions is to use separate joists or studs for 
the opposite surfaces of the ceiling or the wall (Fig. 25.6). Sound trans- 
mission can be further reduced by placing in the wall a soft and spongy 
material that will absorb some of the sound. Batt-type insulation applied 
as shown is a suitable material, or a spongy insulation board can be used. 
Filling the spaces between the joists or studs in a wall or ceiling that has 
only a single system of them to which both surfaces are attached is not 

Insulation 435 

effective. Openings such as windows and doors in a wall will permit so 
much sound to pass from one side of the wall to the other that sound insu- 
lation is not worth while in such a wall unless the opening can be eliminated. 
In general, heavy partitions do not transmit sound so readily as lightly 
constructed ones. Sound transmission through a conventional type of wood 
partition can be reduced by filling the spaces in the partition with dry sand; 
but unfortunately more weight is introduced than can be safely tolerated 
unless the partition is based on the earth or unless its support has been 
designed by an architect or engineer. 




_L RACTICALLY ALL CITIES have plumbing codes. In some states there is a 
state code that may apply throughout the state or only to installations in 
houses located outside the jurisdiction of city codes. Plumbing that is in- 
stalled in remodeling must comply with the provisions of any code that 
applies to the region in which the house is located. Even in rural regions 
where no code applies plumbing should be installed according to good 

The typical plumbing system (Fig. 26.1) in a house has two principal 
components — the water-supply piping and the drainage system. The water- 
supply part can be further broken down into the cold-water pipes and the 
hot-water pipes. The drainage system has five elements — the soil stack, which 
runs vertically from below the first floor of the house upwards through the 
roof; the drainage pipes, which run from the fixtures to the soil stack; 
the traps; the venting system; and the sewer. 

Water-supply Piping 

Galvanized steel pipe, galvanized wrought-iron pipe, brass pipe, copper 
pipe, and copper tubing are all used for water piping in house plumbing 
systems; but only galvanized steel pipe and copper tubing will be discussed, 
since they are the most commonly used materials. Galvanized steel pipe is 
relatively inexpensive, but it is subject to rust and to eventual stoppage. 
Copper tubing is not subject to rust. It is often the most suitable material 
for the water-supply piping in remodeling not only because of its durability 
but also because the flexible type of tubing is easier to place in existing 
walls. Hard-drawn (inflexible) copper tubing can be used in conjunction 
with soft copper tubing. In remodeling, the hard-drawn type is usually in- 
stalled where the pipe lines run in the open, as in the basement. 

Typical fittings for galvanized steel water pipe are shown in Fig. 26.2. 
Fittings of this type are threaded, hence threads must be cut on the ends 
of the pipe in order to make the joints. The necessary tools are a pipe vise, 




Fig. 26.1. — Typical house-plumbing system. 


New Houses from Old 

a pipe cutter, a pipe threader, and a pipe reamer. Pipe wrenches are neces- 
sary for putting the pipe and the fittings together. The joints between 
threaded pipes and fittings are made tight by putting pipe-thread compound 
on the male threads (the threads on the pipe), then running the pipe thread 
tightly into the fitting. 

Typical fittings for copper tubing are shown in Fig. 26.3. There are two 
methods of making the joints in copper tubing. The first employs flared 
fittings. The nut of the fitting is placed on the tube. The end of the tube is 
then flared out with a special tool, after which the fitting is run together 
and made tight with a wrench. The second method is to put the tubing 
together with sweated fittings. To make a sweated joint, the end of the 
tube is cut off square and cleaned. It is pushed into the fitting, and the 
fitting is heated with the flame from an alcohol torch or gasoline blow- 
torch. A wire of solder is then applied to the joint, and the heat causes the 
solder to melt and to flow between the tubing and the walls of the fitting. 
Sweated joints that are made with good workmanship are very strong. 



90° ELBOW 

45° ELBOW 





Fig. 26.2. — Common steel-pipe fittings. Those shown are for supply piping. Drain- 
age fittings have identical names. 





New Houses from Old 

Special fittings are available for the joining of copper tubing to threaded 
pipe when such a connection is necessary. 

The sizes of water pipe or tubing are indicated in inches and fractions 
of an inch. These sizes are closely related to the internal diameter but are 
not an exact expression of it; hence they are called nominal sizes. 

Fig. 26.4 

Sizes in Inches for Supply Pipes to Fixtures 

Water-closet tanks 
Water-c'loset flush valves 



Laundry tubs 
Domestic water heaters 
Sill cocks 



Correct sizing of the water-supply pipes is important if there is to be a 
good flow at the fixtures. The sizes recommended in Fig. 26.4 are for aver- 
age city water pressures. Where water pressures are less than 25 lb. per 
sq. in., as in some rural and village homes, it is advisable to increase them 
by one pipe size. In most houses, a %-in. pipe or tube is large enough for 
the main water-supply pipe that supplies the branches to the fixtures. How- 
ever, if a flush valve is used instead of a tank on the water closet, it is 
necessary to run a 1-in. pipe all the way to it. 

Drainage-system Piping 

Although galvanized steel pipe and hard-drawn copper tubing are some- 
times used, cast-iron soil pipe is the usual material for the soil stack and 
for branches to water closets. It is manufactured in three weights known 
as standard, heavy, and extra heavy. The medium or heavy weight is 
adequate for all parts of the drainage system that are above ground, but 
the extra-heavy weight should be used in the portion that is buried in the 
soil. The more common types of soil-pipe fittings are illustrated in Fig. 26.5. 
The fittings with threaded branches are used for connections to galvanized 
steel drains and vents. The size of pipe most commonly used for the soil 
stacks in houses is 4 in. The National Bureau of Standards has determined 
that pipe of 3-in. diameter is adequate for single-family houses; but in 
many localities the 4-in. size is still specified by the plumbing code. 

Joints in cast-iron soil piping (Fig. 26.6) are made with oakum and 
lead. Oakum is wound around the spigot and carefully packed into the 
joint until the joint is filled to about 1% in. of the top. There are two 
ways of applying the lead. Professional plumbers usually melt pig lead 






















Fig. 26.5. — Commonly used cast-iron soil-pipe fittings. 



and pour it into the joint while it is molten. An asbestos "runner" or a 
clay dam is used to hold the lead in horizontal joints until it solidifies. 
The lead shrinks upon cooling, hence it is necessary to tamp it with a 
calking iron in order to make a tight joint. The tamping must be done 
carefully to avoid splitting the cast-iron hub. The handling of hot lead is 
a hazardous operation. Equally good joints can be made with lead wool 
where they are permitted by the plumbing code. A rope of lead wool is 
placed in the joint on top of the oakum and is compacted with an iron. 
Additional strands are put in and compacted in the same way until the 
joint is solidly filled. Threaded joints between cast-iron soil pipe and gal- 
vanized pipe are made the same as joints in other threaded pipe. 


New Houses from Old 

Galvanized steel piping is used for the drains from fixture traps to the 
soil stack. It is important to use only drainage fittings in these lines, because 
ordinary water-pipe fittings don't have the proper recess for the pipe ends 
nor the proper pitch. 




Fig. 26.6. — A. Lead and oakum joint in cast-iron soil pipe. B. Pouring molten lead 
into horizontal joint (viewed from top side of pipe run). 

WATER-, ^ 
LEVEL ^ t 












Fig. 26.7. — Traps. A. P-trap used with lavatories and sinks. Cross section shows 
basic construction of traps. B. S-trap, now illegal in many communities. C. Drum 
trap, formerly widely used for bathtubs but seldom installed now. D. Combination 
floor drain and trap. E. Running trap required in house sewer by some plumbing 
codes. Best omitted when not required by law. Dotted lines show optional vent 

Plumbing 443 

Traps. The purpose of a trap is to hold a small amount of water in a 
drainage line so that gases from the sewer will not enter the house. The 
depth of the seal (Fig. 26.7) should be not less than 2 in. and not greater 
than 4 in. Most traps now manufactured meet this requirement, but some 
that do not meet it are found in many old plumbing systems. Traps are 
necessary in connection with sinks, lavatories, bathtubs, stall showers, and 
floor drains. They are placed as close to the fixture as possible. Modern 
lavatory and sink traps are usually made of chromium-plated brass tubing; 
but if the trap will not be exposed to view, the plating may be omitted. 

Vents. The venting system serves two purposes. The main vent, which is 
formed by extending the top of the soil stack through the roof, carries off 
gases and odors from the sewer and discharges them outside the house. 
The back vent equalizes air pressures on both sides of the water in traps 
so that this water will not be siphoned out. The method of venting plumbing 
fixtures and the sizes of vents are usually specified by plumbing codes. 
When plumbing is installed in houses where there is no plumbing code, 
vents can safely be omitted if the length of the drainpipe from the fixture 
trap is not greater than forty-eight diameters of the drainpipe and if the 
fall (slope) of the drain from the point where it connects to the trap to the 
point where it connects to the soil stack is not more than one diameter. 
Fixture drains that do not meet these specifications can be vented as shown 
in Fig. 26.8. A long drain is sometimes necessary for the kitchen sink. It 
is not necessary to run the vent from the kitchen sink back to the main soil 
stack if the distance is great. Instead, the vent can be independently ex- 
tended upward through the house roof. Galvanized piping is usually em- 
ployed for vents. The l/^o'in. size is adequate for most house plumbing 
installations; but if a vent of this size is extended through the roof, it 
should be increased to at least a 2-in. diameter to guard against stoppage 
by frost. 

Installation of Plumbing 

The first step in the installation of a plumbing system is to obtain what 
are called the rough-in dimensions of the fixtures. In most cases, these will 
be furnished on request by the dealer from whom you plan to purchase the 
fixtures. The rough-in dimensions should then be used to check the pre- 
liminary plans for the fixture locations. After the fixture locations have 
been definitely determined, the location of the soil stack should be planned 
so that the drainpipes from the fixtures to the stack can be kept as short 
as possible. Once the location of the soil stack has been established, the 
sewer system (Chapter 28) is built. 


New Houses from Old 

tmir '^TAPPED T BRANCH M-*— ^ 









Fig. 26.8. — Method of venting a hoiise-pltimbing installation. Drainage pipes are 
shaded; vent pipes, unshaded. 

After the sewer is constructed, the soil stack (Figs. 26.8-26.9) is built. 
Branch fittings must be placed in the stack at the exact points where they will 
be needed. The closet bend (Fig. 26.13) should be calked into its fitting 
before the fitting is installed in the stack. 












Fig. 26.9. — Soil-stack details. 

Cast-iron soil pipe is easily cut. The line of the cut is first marked with 
chalk around the outside of the pipe. The pipe is then placed on a piece 
of 2-in. by 4-in. lumber and is lightly scored with a cold chisel along the 
chalk line. The pipe is rolled along the 2-by-4, and the scoring is made 
gradually deeper. After two or three circuits of the pipe with the chisel, 
the pipe will break off evenly. A flashing (Chapter 18) should be installed 
on the end of the stack that passes through the roof. 


New Houses from Old 

The next operation is the installation of the drains from the fixtures to 
the stack and the vents if these are required. The fixtures themselves are 
then placed and are connected to the drains. Typical drainage connections 
for a lavatory or sink are shown in Fig. 26.10; for a bathtub, Fig. 26.11; 
and for a water closet, Fig. 26.13. Fixtures that hang on the wall are sup- 
ported on a metal bracket that should be solidly nailed to the wall studs. 
The bracket should come with the fixture. Such brackets are not standard- 















Fig. 26.10.— Details of supply and drainage connections for lavatories and sinfs. 
A. For horizontally mounted faucets. B. For vertically mounted faucets (see Figs. 
8.6 and 9.12 for views of faucets). C. Lavatory drainage connection before as- 
sembling. D. Basket-strainer drainage fixture (assembled) for sink. E. Pop-up 
waste assembly for lavatory. Often used in place of rubber-stopper type of fixture 
shown in C. A to C are exploded views; D to E are assembled views. 

Plumbing 447 

ized; however, the method by which the fixture is attached to the bracket 
is always obvious. 

The water closet is connected to the soil stack by means of a fitting 
called a closet bend. The stack end of the bend is calked into the soil-pipe 
fitting in the same way as any other soil-pipe joint is made, but the metnod 
of making the joint at the other end depends on the type of bend. The 
details of various types of bends are shown in Fig. 26.13. Before the water- 
closet bowl is installed, the recesses in the base of the bowl are filled with 
putty. About 3 lb. of putty are required. If the floor is bare wood, the 
area that will be covered by the bowl should be painted with linseed oil. 
If the bend is of a type that requires a gasket, the gasket is then placed 

Fig. 26.11. — Bathtub supply and drain connections. A. Installation with separate valves 
for tub and shower and with plug waste. B. View at right angle to A. C, D. Typical old- 
style installation with concealed standing waste. The shower was added some time after 
the tub was installed. E. Economical and convenient arrangement of shower and tub 
valves. F. Modern pop-up waste. G. Modern concealed waste. The latter two diagrams 
show general principles rather than exact details of mechanisms now on the market. 


New Houses from Old 

around the closet horn. The closet horn is placed in the end of the bend 
and the bolts or screws that extend through the base of the bowl are tight- 
ened gradually and evenly so that the bowl is drawn down to an even 
bearing on the floor. Water closets with integral tanks are rather awkward 
to handle at this stage of the installation. In order to obtain an even bed- 
ding of putty, the water closet should be rocked back and forth and from 
side to side several times. Drawing down the screws or nuts will cause 
putty to be squeezed out around the base of the bowl. This putty should 
be cut off and cleaned up before it hardens. 

If a test of the drainage system is required by your plumbing code, it 
can be made at any time after the system is complete. This test is made 












rV-n '-' 






Fig. 26.12. 

by sealing off the system and by introducing air into it under pressure. 
The test requires special apparatus that is owned by plumbing inspectors 
and plumbers. 

The final operation is to build the cold- and hot-water supply lines and 
to connect them to the fixtures. These lines should be laid out so that when 
necessary they can be drained easily. Typical water-supply connections for 

Plumbing • 449 

various fixtures are shown in Figs. 26.10 to 26.12. Before the joints in the 
water-supply piping are covered up, the water should be turned into them 
and the lines inspected for leaks. 

Concealment of Plumbing Pipes 

The concealment of plumbing pipes is a problem when a house is re- 
modeled, particularly when it is desirable to keep the cutting of walls and 
floors to a minimum. The soil stack presents the most difficult problem 
because of its width. A 4-in. soil stack cannot be installed in the conven- 
tional frame wall built with 2-in. by 4-in. studs, but a 3-in. soil stack can 
be placed in such a wall. However, the wall must be opened in order to 
place it. Both the drainage system and the water-supply pipes are fre- 
quently concealed in existing houses by furring out the walls and furring 
down ceilings. Closets and corner cupboards are also convenient devices for 
concealment. In some houses the piping can be run behind a corner cup- 
board on the first floor and concealed in a closet on the second floor. In 
masonry houses where the exterior walls are thicker than 12 in., chases can 
sometimes be cut in the masonry for the piping. The method of concealment 
must be worked out individually for each case, but there are practically no 
houses in which plumbing pipes cannot be installed without disfiguring the 

Finding room for the closet bend is sometimes a troublesome problem 
because the floor under the new bathroom is too shallow to accommodate 
the bend. If the joists under the floor run so that the bend can be placed 
between them, it is better to fur down the ceiling below to make room for 
the bend. The entire ceiling can, of course, be lowered or only a portion 
of it. If the joists run in the wrong direction, the best procedure is to raise 
the bathroom floor by installing new joists crosswise of the old ones, 
although this may require the building of a step down to the floor level of 
the adjoining room. Deep cutting of existing joists should be avoided when 
the bend is placed, but it is seldom that both the closet bend and the soil 
stack can be installed in an old house without some cutting of joists and 
studs. Reinforcement of cut joists and studs in order to avoid weakening 
them is discussed in Chapter 17. 

In some cases the soil pipe can be adequately installed and concealed 
without cutting existing walls, but the supply pipes must for one reason 
or another be run in the walls. Supply pipes can be installed in walls of 
most houses without opening them. Flexible copper tubing can be fished 


New Houses from Old 


? c 


S ct, 

^ -B 
















Fig. 26.14. 


New Houses from Old 

downward through a standard frame wall, as shown in Fig. 26.14. The 
installation of threaded steel pipe inside a wall is a little more difficult, 
but it can be done by the method illustrated in Fig. 26.15. 


Fk;. 26.15. 

Modernization of Old Plumbing 

The most common operation other than simple repairs in modernizing 
old plumbing is the replacement of corroded water-supply piping. In many 
cases, the old piping follows a rather tortuous route through the walls and 
floors. Replacement is made simpler in such cases by not attempting to 

Plumbing 453 


follow the lines of the old pipe with the new piping. Instead, the old piping 
is disconnected from the fixtures and is also disconnected from the water 
supply in the basement. The basement end of the piping should be left 
open, but the fixture ends should be sealed. New tubing, or pipes, is then 
fished through the walls and connected to the fixtures and the water supply. 

The flooring is sometimes decayed under water closets that have been in 
place for some years. To remedy this condition, the screws that hold the 
water closet to the floor are removed and the bowl is lifted from the floor. 
The decayed flooring is then cut out. The joint between the closet bend and 
the soil-stack branch should be inspected; but if there is no indication of 
a leak at this point, it need not be disturbed. New flooring boards are then 
installed in place of the decayed boards. The old putty is dug out of the 
base of the closet bowl and is replaced with new. The closet bowl is then 
installed in the same manner as a new bowl. 

If you wish to replace the old fixtures with modern ones, some expense 
can usually be avoided by installing the new fixtures in approximately the 
same locations. On the other hand, if the original bathroom is inconve- 
niently arranged, it may be better to spend the extra money in order to 
obtain a satisfactory bathroom. Two sets of before-and-after pictures of 
remodeled bathrooms are shown in Chapter 9. Note that in one case the 
fixtures were relocated to advantage, while in the other case they were 
installed in the same positions. 

The lead bathtub and lavatory piping shown in Fig. 9.1 are typical of 
the plumbing in many old houses. Obviously the only way to modernize 
such equipment is to replace it with new. Many old bathtubs were equipped 
with a drum type of trap. This kind of trap was usually closed with a 
circular metal plate that was installed flush with the bathroom floor. Drum 
traps are seldom used at the present time, but they function satisfactorily 
if the water seal in them is between 2 and 4 in. in depth. Such a trap is 
usually removed when a bathroom is completely modernized, but there is 
no point in replacing it beforehand. 

Cross Connections 

Authorities on plumbing and on public health have established beyond 
any doubt that pollution of the water in water-supply piping can occur 
through faulty construction of plumbing fixtures. Among these fixtures are 
lavatories in which the water is conveyed from the supply pipes to the bowl 
via an internal channel in the bowl and bathtubs in which the water enters 
the tub through a nozzle installed below the rim of the tub. Combination 
faucets, which have cistern water on one side and drinking water on the 


New Houses from Old 

other, are another source of contamination. Plumbing fixtures such as these 
are encountered frequently in existing houses. When they are found, they 
should be removed and modern fixtures installed in place of them. 

To avoid contamination of the water supply, water faucets and nozzles 
should be placed so that their openings are above the highest possible water 
level in the fixture that they supply. This level should be taken as the 
point at which water will overflow the fixture edge if the drain is stopped. 
The distance between the faucet or nozzle tip and the flood rim of the 
fixture is called the air gap (Fig. 9.12). Fig. 26.16, reproduced from the 
National Bureau of Standards' Plumbing Manual, gives recommended mini- 
mum heights for air gaps. 

Fig. 26. 1 6 

Minimum air gap, inches 

Fixture and fitting 
(1) • 

For ordi- 
nary condi- 
tions (see 
notes 1 
and 2) 

For spout 
near wall 
(see notes 
1 and 2) 


Lavatory supplies with effective opening not greater than 
H in. 

Sink, laundry tray, and bath (gooseneck) faucets with ef- 
fective opening not greater than ^ in. 

Overrim bath fillers with effective opening not greater than 
1 in. 



Note 1 — Spout near wall — If any vertical wall extending to or above the horizontal 
plane of the spout opening is closer to the nearest inside wall of the spout opening than 
four times the diameter of the effective opening, the air gap shall be as specified above 
for spout near wall (column 3). 

Note 2 — Spout set at an angle — Should the plane of the end of the spout be at an 
angle to the surface of the water, the mean gap is to be taken as the basis for measure- 
ment, except for drinking-fountain nozzles, in which case the gap to the lowest point 
of the nozzle opening shall be taken. 

Hot-water Supply 

In houses with modern, automatically fueled heating systems, the hot 
water is usually heated by the heating plant. The heating coil can be in- 
stalled in the boiler. Such a coil can be seen on the left-hand side of the 
boiler illustrated in Fig. 24.2. Coils of this type may be large enough so 

Plumbing • 455 

that no water-storage tank is required. This kind of coil can also be used 
in conjunction with a hot-water storage tank. Another type of system uses 
a separate heat exchanger which is mounted outside the boiler but which 
is connected to it so that the boiler water flows through it. This type is 
often installed when a hand-fired heating plant is converted to automatic 
fueling. Hot water can also be heated by a coil or water back inserted in 
the fire pot of warm-air furnaces. In rural homes the hot water is often 
heated by means of a hot-water back or heating coil installed adjacent to 
the fire in the kitchen range. 

On the other hand, the hot-water heating system is often quite inde- 
pendent of the house-heating system. Separate hot-water heating systems 
are currently available for the following types of fuels: electricity; natural, 
manufactured, and bottled gas; oil; coal. 

Electric water heaters of the storage type are undoubtedly the most satis- 
factory from the viewpoint of convenience. Their only disadvantage is the 
cost of current; but in many communities a special low rate for water 
heating is offered by utility companies. Sometimes in remodeling, it is best 
to install an electric hot-water heater near the plumbing fixtures. When 
this system is employed, only one water-supply line is needed to the 
kitchen and bathroom, but adequate electric wiring must be run to the 
water heater. The idea is also applicable to houses where existing hot-water 
supply pipes are corroded, but the cold-water lines are still in good condition. 

Well-built electric water heaters of the storage type should not be con- 
fused with the small, inexpensive type of electric heater that is installed at 
the sink or bathroom fixture and designed to heat the water as it is drawn. 
Heaters of this type are seldom satisfactory. 

Gas water heaters are the next most convenient type. A gas water heater 
usually employs a storage tank, but there are also instantaneous types of 
heaters that heat the water as it is drawn. At one time the use of gas water 
heaters was limited to houses located where natural or manufactured gas 
was available from public-utility companies; but bottled gas, which is 
delivered to the house in steel pressure tanks, has extended its usefulness 
to rural homes. Water heaters that use kerosene or other petroleum oil are 
used mainly in the country where electricity or gas is not available or 
where electric rates are too high for water heating. Coal-burning water 
heaters usually consist of a storage tank together with a small "pot" stove 
that is designed to burn anthracite or other suitable coal. 

The most common type of hot-water storage tank — the "range boiler" — 
is shown in Fig. 26.17. It can be placed either vertically or horizontally. 
The cold-water tube is a special pipe that comes with the tank. It has a 
small hole drilled in its side. This hole is placed at the top side of the boiler. 


New Houses from Old 

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Plumbing 457 

whether the tank stands vertically or horizontally. A relief valve, built so 
that it will open in response to both excess pressure and excess tempera- 
ture, should be installed in connection with every hot-water storage tank. 
Omitting it may result in a serious explosion. Valves and union-type coup- 
lings should be installed as shown so that the tank can easily be discon- 
nected when repairs are necessary. Some types of hot-water tanks, especially 
copper tanks, are supplied with the fittings already attached; for others they 
must be purchased separately. Water heaters in which the heating element 
and the tank are combined in one unit are usually arranged so that the only 
connections necessary are those to the cold-water supply and those to the 
hot-water pipe. However, even these connections should be made so that 
the unit can easily be detached when the need arises. 

As every homeowner knows, the life of a galvanized steel hot-water tank 
is always limited; and under some conditions it is short indeed. Such tanks 
are now available with vitreous enamel linings (also called glass linings) 
that considerably prolong their life. However, the purchase of a tank made 
entirely of a corrosion-resistant metal, such as copper or Monel metal 
(an alloy of copper and nickel), is the best safeguard against the necessity 
for early replacement of the tank. 

Hot-water tanks are manufactured for various working pressures. These 
pressures are stated in catalogues and usually on the tank. Some communities 
require the use only of tanks that are guaranteed for a certain minimum 
working pressure. Whether your installation must meet such a requirement 
or not, it is better to purchase a tank that is guaranteed for a compara- 
tively high pressure, because such tanks, being heavier, are not only safer 
but may last longer. When an expensive unit heater such as an electric 
water heater is selected, it is especially important to buy one that has a 
heavy, durable tank, for the failure of the tank in such a heater often 
requires replacement of the entire heater. 



Water Supply 

Water supply is no problem if the house you are planning to remodel 
is ''^cated where water can be obtained from a public water system, but it 
is an important factor in successful remodeling if water from a municipal 
system is not available. The fact that a farm or village house has been lived 
in for many generations does not necessarily indicate that its water supply 
is either adequate or pure. The adequacy of the water supply and its purity 
should both be carefully investigated as one of the first steps in the remodel- 
ing of any farm or village home dependent on an individual source of water. 

Quantity and Quality 

Tests for quantity. The amount of water needed per day varies from 
family to family, but 50 gal. per day for each person is a safe figure to 
use in estimating water needs. This amount will take care of bathing, cook- 
ing, dish washing, and laundry. If livestock are to be kept, they, also, will 
require water. The daily amounts for larger animals are as follows: milking 
cows, 25 to 30 gal. each; other cattle, 12 gal. each; horses, 12 gal. each. 
Figures for other kinds of livestock are available in publications issued by 
the agricultural departments of the national and state governments. 

Measuring the flow of a spring is a relatively simple matter. You simply 
take a pail of known capacity, say 3 gal., and run the full flow of the 
spring into it, while you keep track of the time required to fill the pail. 
If the pail fills in six minutes, the spring is flowing at the rate of 30 gal. 
per hr. and will produce 360 gal. of water in twenty-four hours. Testing 
a well is somewhat more difficult. A fairly reliable method for a dug well 
is to remove enough of the well cover to enable the water to be seen. A white 
or light-colored pole marked off in feet is then inserted into the water, and 
the well is pumped rapidly until the level of the water drops 1 ft. After 
that, the pump is worked at just the right rate to keep the water level 1 ft. 
below normal, and the water that is pumped out is measured, while the 
time is recorded. Since lowering the water level will cause water to flow 


Water Supply 459 

into the well at an abnormal rate for a while, the test should be continued 
for at least an hour. The water level cannot be seen in driven wells or 
drilled wells, hence the only reliable way of testing these wells is to pump 
them constantly for a long time, say five to ten hours. Tests of springs and 
wells should always be carried out in relatively dry weather when surface 
streams such as brooks or rivers in the neighborhood are at an average or 
low level. Any test carried out in wet weather or when winter snow is 
melting will give misleading results. 

Tests for quality. Tests for pollution are best made in laboratories. The 
health department in practically every state will make such tests for resi- 
dents or property owners in the state free of charge or for a nominal charge. 
If the water for your house flows through lead pipe, as it may if it c^ ^es 
from a spring, a test for lead should also be made. Usually this test will 
be made in the same laboratory if you request it. 

Springs, wells, and cisterns are the common types of water supply for 
farmhouses and houses in villages that lack public water systems. Although 
ponds, lakes, and streams are frequently used to supply water for city water 
systems, homeowners can seldom afford the treatment plants and attention 
that are necessary to render such water safe for drinking. However, if water 
from no other source is available, pond and stream water can be made 
safe by proper filtering. The subject is well covered from the homeowner's 
viewpoint in Winston's A Surface Water Treatment for the Rural Home. 


Springs are formed when rain water in passing downward through soil 
and porous rock encounters a layer of rock through which it cannot pass 
readily. Crevasses and folds in the rock layer serve to concentrate the water 
into small underground streams. The typical spring is a stream of water 
flowing out of a hillside where the impervious layer of rock outcrops. 
Equally good springs fail to come to the surface but ooze out under the 
soil where the impervious rock comes close to the surface. Although the 
water in some springs percolates through many hundreds of feet of soil 
before coming to the surface, the water in many springs has filtered through 
only a relatively thin layer of soil and rock; consequently, the water they 
produce is essentially surface water. Because of this, it is important that 
the area drained by the spring be free of possible sources of pollution. 
There should be neither house nor barn on the land located uphill from 
a spring if the spring water is to be used for drinking. 

Probably you will no sooner start your search for a new spring than the 


New Houses from Old 

neighborhood waterfinder will offer his services. The methods of water- 
finders vary somewhat from one community to another; but usually the 
waterfinder, or dowser, walks over the land with a forked stick grasped in 
his two hands. The stick is supposed to dip downward when the dowser 
carries it over a hidden vein of water. The controversy over dowsing has 
raged for centuries. The best advice on the matter that the authors of this 
book can give you is to use more scientific methods to find your new spring. 








Fig. 27.1. — Good type of spring basin (also called spring curb). 

Springs are found by looking for them with your eyes and by probing 
for them with pick and shovel. Some springs flow out from hillsides as 
streams of some size. Others are indicated by water trickles or by damp 
spots that persist in dry weather. Small brooks often have their beginnings 
in springs. Also, if the volume of a flowing brook increases perceptibly at 
a certain spot, although no tributary brook flows into it there, that spot will 
be a good place to look for a spring. A place where ferns and grasses grow 
green and high in dry weather often covers the underground outlet of a 
spring. In hilly regions, springs seeping underground sometimes create 
small isolated swamps or marshy ravines. In such cases, the place to look 
is not in the marsh, but uphill from it along the hillsides, for although 

Water Supply 


water can be obtained by constructing a spring basin in a swamp, it is 
seldom fit to drink. A spring that flows out under the soil on a hillside will 
sometimes flow underground for a considerable distance before it bubbles 
out beside a surface stream or oozes out in a marsh; but some digging along 
the hillside will, in most cases, discover the point where the water issues 
from the rock, or a strata of gravelly soil so saturated with water that you 
need look no farther. 







Fig. 27.2. — Increasing the capacity of a spring by tile lines laid so as to intercept 
small seepages. Note how lines are run in relation to contour of slope. B shows 
good method of laying tile adjacent to seepage points. 

Often all that needs to be done to an old farm spring is to replace the 
wooden collecting basin with one (Fig. 27.1) that will keep out surface 
water. In other cases, the water in the old spring will be free of pollution 
but will be inadequate in quantity. In many cases, the flow of the old spring 


New Houses from Old 

cannot be increased; but in some cases, a little time and effort spent on 
reconstruction will increase the flow considerably. Sometimes digging the 
spring basin a few feet deeper will do the trick. If the basin is located in 
gravelly soil, a line or two of tile (Fig. 27.2) laid a few feet underground 
above the spring and graded to drain into it will often increase the flow. 
Unglazed clay tile is a good material to use for such a line. The joints are 
left open, but they should be wrapped with strips of canvas or felt to 
keep out silt. 






A I : 2l/4 : 3 MIX 
DED . 

Fig. 27.3. — Two methods of improving old dug wells. The small platform shown in 
B is suitable only when the pump is located away from the well. 


Dug wells. The typical dug well is a hole or shaft, usually from 3 to 5 ft. 
in diameter, extending from the ground surface down to a few feet below 
the water table. Large stones laid up without mortar are commonly used for 
the portion of the well lining that is below the water. Farm wells are often 
lined with stones all the way up, but such construction has two serious faults. 
It permits rain water that falls on the soil around the well to carry pollu- 
tion into the well water; and the stone walls have a tendency to cave in. 

Water Supply 


especially in regions with cold winters where freezing soil and water press 
them inward. 

Pollution that reaches the water table will travel long distances under- 
ground. A rule of thumb frequently used in well construction is that 
sources of pollution such as barnyards and privies should be located at 
least 100 ft. downgrade from the well. This rule is better than none at all, 
but it is far from adequate protection, since the slope of the underground 
rock layers is not always the same as the soil above them. 







Fig. 27.4. 

If the old well is satisfactorily located from the standpoint of safety and 
if a test shows its water to be free of pollution, often all that needs to be 
done to it is to install a new lining above the water line and to protect the 
well at the top with grading and a cover that will remain permanently 
watertight (Fig. 27.3). 

Sometimes the problem is not one of pollution but of inadequacy. Often 
a well that goes dry periodically can be cured of the fault by digging it 
deeper. This operation is best carried out when the water level in the well 
is low. The method diagramed in Fig. 27.4 is one that can be applied to 
most dug wells. A concrete tile is lowered to the bottom of the well, and 
the soil is excavated inside it, using a shovel or posthole digger. When the 
top of the first tile has sunk about two-thirds of the depth of tile, a second 


New Houses from Old 

tile is lowered on top of it. The process is repeated until the desired depth 
is reached. Joints in the tile above the water level should be carefully filled 
with a 1:2 or 1:3 Portland-cement mortar. A gasoline-powered pump of 
the type used by contractors for draining excavations should be used to 
pump the water out of the well while the excavating is going on. 



Fig. 27.5. 

Water Supply 


Two precautions should be observed in working in an old well. First, test 
the well for dangerous gases by lowering a small animal, such as a rabbit 
or chicken, into the well just above the water level and observe whether it 
continues to breath naturally. If it suffocates, don't enter the well until the 
gases have been blown out with a strong current of air. Second, brace the 
old walls with shoring before you start digging. It is quite unsafe to descend 
into a well and start digging without first shoring the walls. 




Fig. 27.6. — Bracing system for circular shoring and forms. B shows one method 
of providing extra support for braces in shoring when planks cannot be nailed. 

Digging new wells. Shallow wells are dug by hand. Obviously, the hole 
must be large enough for a man to work in it. Three feet is a minimum 
diameter, and 4 ft. is better. Shovels, picks, and posthole diggers are the 
implements needed. In soils that hold their shape well it is reasonably safe 
to dig down to where water is encountered without shoring the hole; but 
it is much safer even in these soils, and it is absolutely essential in soils that 
show any tendency to cave in, to shore up the walls as the digging progresses. 
Round shoring lessens the amount of digging, but square shoring (Fig. 27.5) 
is easier to construct. When the water level is reached, a power-driven pump 

466 ■ New Houses from Old 

should be used to keep the well empty until the hole has reached a depth 
of 4 to 8 ft. below the water table. 

After the excavation is completed, the well is lined. Large stones or bricks 
laid up without mortar are suitable for the underwater part of the lining. 
The best materials for the portion of the lining that is above water are 
poured concrete or concrete tile. A poured lining can be either square or 
round. A square lining will take more material, but the forms for it are 
somewhat easier to build. The construction shown in Fig. 27.4B saves 
concrete and is probably safer from the standpoint of purity of the water 
supply than a well lined all the way to the top. 

Driven ivells. Driven wells are made by driving a pipe equipped with a 
well point (Fig. 27.7) into the water table. Steel or wrought-iron pipe with 
a nominal internal diameter of 1 or 2 in. is usually used. The driving is 
done with a heavy mallet or a simple pile driver. A length of pipe equipped 
with the well point is driven first. A second length is then joined to it with 
a special fitting that permits the pipe ends to butt together. A 4-ft. length 
of pipe is a convenient size for hand driving. Longer lengths can be used if 
the driving is done with a pile driver. The top of the pipe is protected with 
a wooden block while it is being driven. Driven wells can be put down 
only in certain types of soils such as alluvial deposits or clays. They cannot 
be put down through rock or soils that are full of boulders. 



Fig. 27.7. — Well point used in driven wells. 

In many soils the yield of water from a driven well gradually diminishes 
due to the clogging of the well point and also to the silting up of the soil 
or gravel surrounding the well point. Sometimes this condition can be cor- 
rected by setting off a small explosive charge in the well pipe. Well diggers 
in regions where driven wells are common have special equipment for this 
operation. It is no job for amateurs to attempt. If shooting does not improve 
the flow from an old driven well, the only remedy is to put down a new 
well at a point 10 to 25 ft. from the old one. In some cases, the yield of a 
driven well is small because the gravel or sand about the point is so fine 
in texture that it forms an obstruction to the flow of large quantities of 
water. In such a case, several wells can be driven and connected to the 

Drilled wells. A drilled well is made by boring a hole of relatively small 
diameter, usually less than 10 in., down to the water table and lining the 

Water Supply 


hole with steel pipe called casing. Drilled wells can be put down through 
any kind of soil or rock, but they can be constructed only with special well- 
drilling machinery. Construction of a drilled well is an expensive operation; 
therefore, a contract between yourself and the well driller should be drawn 
up and signed before the drilling is commenced. An important point in 
the construction of a drilled well is to seal the opening around the point 
where the casing enters solid rock. 


Fig. 27.8. — Scheme of a good type of modern cistern. Since cisterns are rather 
large structures, they should be designed by an expert or built from working draw- 
ings available from such organizations as the Portland Cement Association. 

The artesian well is a type that is possible in only a few regions where 
there are special geological conditions. Artesian wells are usually very 
deep in comparison to other types of wells. Because they must be drilled 
through rock, they can be constructed only with well-drilling machinery. 
The water in an artesian well is under a certain amount of head. The head 
is often sufficient to cause the water to overflow the top of the casing, or it 
may be only enough to cause the water to rise to some point inside the 

Cisterns. The cistern does not produce water but merely holds it until it is 
needed for use. In some sections of the country cisterns are used to store 
drinking water. In others they hold a supplementary supply of water that is 

468 New Houses from Old 

used for washing and bathing, while water from another source is used for 
drinking. Still another use for the cistern on farms and in villages is as a 
reservoir to hold water for fire fighting. 

Since the cistern is nothing more than a large container for water, it must 
be watertight to be of any use. A cracked or leaky cistern can usually be 
repaired and made watertight. The procedures are the same as for repairing 
and waterproofing other masonry walls (Chapters 14 and 15) except that the 
waterproofing material is applied to the inside of the cistern. However, water- 
proofing compounds containing tar should not be used on the interior of a 
cistern used for drinking water. Cisterns can be made of masonry units, 
such as brick, but most cisterns are now built of poured concrete (Fig. 27.8). 

Cisterns can be filled from springs, especially springs that flow only 
during wet seasons of the year. Cisterns intended to hold water for fire 
protection can also be filled from streams. However, the most common way 
of filling a cistern is by discharging into it water that falls on the roof of 
the house during rains. 

The greatest problem in connection with cistern water that must be used 
for drinking is to keep it clean. Dust, leaves, and other dirt will collect on 
a roof during periods of dry weather. If the roof water is discharged di- 
rectly into the cistern, this matter will be swept into it and will decompose 
in the water with undesirable results. The usual method of solving this 
problem is to provide the downspouts with a cut-off switch that is normally 
turned to discharge the rain water onto the ground. After rain has fallen 
long enough to wash the solid material off the roof, the switch is turned 
manually so that the water discharges into the cistern. Obviously, this system 
is neither perfect nor convenient. A better method is to pass the roof water 
through a sand filter (Fig. 27.8). 

Water Pressure and Flow 

Getting water from its source to the plumbing system is the next problem 
in providing a water supply. Here it will be useful to understand what is 
meant by waterhead and water pressure. If a vertical pipe is filled with 
water, the water at the bottom will be pressed downward by the weight of 
all the water standing above it. This pressure on the water at the bottom 
is described in terms of head. Thus the water at the bottom of a pipe 20 ft. 
in height that is filled with water is under 20 ft. of head. The pressure on 
the water can also be described in terms of pounds per square inch. Head 
can be converted approximately into pounds per square inch by dividing it 
by 2.3. Conversely, pounds per square inch can be converted into head by 
multiplying by 2.3. Water pressure from springs and similar sources is usu- 

Water Supply 469 

ally expressed in terms of head, but water pressure in municipal and in 
domestic water systems is usually expressed in pounds per square inch. 
Automatic water systems designed for individual homes are usually set to 
maintain pressures between 20 and 40 lb. per sq. in. 

Most old-time builders in regions where the farmhouses are supplied with 
spring water sought a location below the spring so that the water from it 
would flow by gravity into the house. Unfortunately, they were usually in- 
terested only in a flow that would reach the kitchen sink. Plumbing located 
on the second floor was not one of their worries, nor were they usually 
concerned about a rapid flow. 

One way to find out whether there is enough head or pressure on the 
spring water to serve your plumbing is to insert a gauge in the end of the 
pipe at the house. A gauge designed to show the water pressure on a domes- 
tic hot-water heating system will do very well. Another way is to measure 
the height of the spring above the house. A surveyor can do this accurately 
for you; but if you wish to do it yourself, the procedure is not difficult. A 
level equipped for sighting and a pole or board 8 to 12 ft. high distinctly 
marked in feet are the implements needed. Sighting levels can be pur- 
chased for a few dollars, or a carpenter's level can be equipped with sights. 
The advantage of the first-mentioned instrument is that it can be held in 
the hand, whereas a carpenter's level must be supported on the top of a 
post or on something else that will hold it level and steady while the sights 
are being taken. 

If the spring is within seeing distance of the house, stand at the spring 
and sight through the level at the house. If the line of sight comes below 
the ridge of the roof, you can be sure that the water from the spring will not 
supply plumbing on the second floor. If the line of sight comes above the 
ridge of the house, it will be worth while for you to measure it more ac- 
curately. Begin at the spring and this time have an assistant to hold the 
pole. Sight at the pole and jot down the figure that you see. Deduct from 
this first figure the vertical distance from the water level in the spring to 
the level. Then move downhill with the level to the spot where the pole is 
standing and have your assistant move the pole to a lower spot. Again 
sight at the pole, jot down the figure without a deduction this time, and 
continue to repeat these steps until you reach the house. Add all of the 
figures together and you will have the height of the spring water above the 
ground level at the house. Now deduct from the total the approximate height 
of the top faucet in the house above the ground level where your sighting 
pole last stood. The result will be the number of feet of head that the water 
will have at the topmost faucet when other faucets in the house are closed. 
If the head is 60 ft. or better, it should be adequate to operate the plumbing 

470 New Houses from Old 

system in an average two-story house. The height of a spring out of sight 
of the house can, of course, be found with the level in the same way. 

There is still another problem to consider, however. This is the rate of 
flow. If the spring pipe is already installed, the flow should be measured 
at the house end of the pipe. If no storage tank is to be used, a flow of 10 
to 12 gal. per min. is the minimum amount that is adequate for a one- 
bathroom plumbing system used by a family of four to six persons; but 
double these amounts may be required if there are two bathrooms in the 
system. If the flow at the house proves to be inadequate, the flow should be 
measured at the spring, since a weak flow at the house may be due either 
to low productivity of the spring or to a small pipe from it to the house. 

Piping to Springs 

If both the head and the rate of flow are adequate, the water-supply piping 
can be connected directly to the spring pipe. However, when such a connec- 
tion is made, there are two possible hazards, both of which arise from chang- 
ing the flow through the spring pipe from a steady flow to an intermittent 
one. Lead pipe was often used to conduct the water from springs to farm 
buildings and village homes. Water that flows through lead pipe will dis- 
solve dangerous quantities of lead only under certain rather special condi- 
tions, but these conditions may exist in farm springs. Water that flows con- 
tinuously through the pipe may dissolve infinitesimal amounts of lead, but 
water that stands in it may dissolve dangerous amounts. The other hazard 
is freezing of the pipe in cold weather. Old-timers will tell you that running 
water does not freeze. The truth of the matter is that the temperature of the 
spring water is above the freezing point, hence if it runs through the pipe 
all of the time, it keeps it and the surrounding soil warm enough to prevent 
freezing. However, changing the steady flow to an intermittent one inter- 
feres with this heating process. If the house is to be used only as a summer 
home, this problem is easily solved by arranging the connection between 
the spring pipe and the plumbing so that it can be disconnected and the 
spring allowed to flow steadily through the pipe when the house is closed 
in cold weather; but if you wish to use the system in freezing weather, it 
will be necessary either to bury the pipe below the frost line or to use a 
connecting system that permits a steady flow through the pipe. 

Piping for underground installation is available in several materials. Lead 
pipe is durable, but it is expensive and it carries the possible hazard of 
lead poisoning. Heavyweight copper tubing is equally durable; but it, too, 
is costly. Copper-bearing galvanized steel pipe is relatively inexpensive, 
but it may corrode rather quickly when placed underground. Cast-iron .water 

Water Supply 


pipe (which is different from cast-iron soil pipe) is very durable and not 
prohibitively expensive. It is available with various types of joints, but 
joints that go together with a gasket and bolts are the easiest to make. 

iij 50 
2 40 
































































































































































^ . 






' ^ 

















i^o J \ 1 H 2 2| 3 4 5 6 8 10 15 20 25 30 40 50 60 80 100 150 200 

{Reprinted from U. S. Department of Agricnlture, Farmers' Bulletin 1426.) 

Fig. 27.9 — Diagram giving the discharge of long straight water pipes. 

Directions. Muhiply the head by 100 and divide the product by the actual length 
of the pipe in feet; find this value on the lower horizontal line of the diagram and 
follow vertically upward to the inclined line showing pipe size; from the intersec- 
tion follow horizontally to the left to find the discharge in gallons per minute. 

Example. How much water will be discharged by 128 ft. of 1-in. pipe under a 
head of 32 ft.? 

Solution. Thirty-two multiplied by 100 equals 3,200; 3,200 divided by 128 equals 
25; enter the diagram at 25, follow upward to the line marked 1-in. pipe, and 
then follow to the left where the discharge is shown to be 15 gal. per min. 

When new pipe is laid to a spring that has sufficient head and capacity, 
the best arrangement is to use durable pipe of adequate size and to bury 
it at least 1 ft. below the frost line. Such a water-supply system will operate 
many years without repairs, and furthermore, it will function when the 
electricity is off. However, large pipe costs considerable money; and in 
some cases when the spring is a long distance from the house, it cannot be 
afforded. Fig. 27.9, reproduced from the United States Department of Agri- 
culture's publication. Farm Plumbing, provides a convenient method for 
finding the rate of flow through pipe under various conditions. 


New Houses from Old 

If a pipe of adequate diameter cannot be installed, there are several ways 
of utilizing a spring of sufficient head that do not require a motor-driven 
pump. One method, shown in Fig. 27.10, uses a pressure tank and operates 
as follows. The head of the spring forces water into the bottom of the tank. 
As the water rises in the tank, it compresses the air at the top. If all the 
faucets in the plumbing system are closed, the water will flow into the tank 
until the head is exactly balanced by the air pressure at the top of the tank, 
at which point the flow will stop. When a faucet is opened, the compressed 
air forces water out of the tank and through the pipes of the plumbing 
system. This results in a drop in the air pressure in the tank, but the pres- 
sure is restored again by the flow of more water from the spring. 





Fig. 27.10. — Valve arrangement for pneumatic storage tank, gravity-fed from spring. 
To charge tank with air, valves 1 and 2 are closed and valves 3 and 4 are opened. 
When tank is nearly empty of water, valves 3 and 4 are closed, then 1 and 2 are 

This system has two disadvantages. Only a few gallons of water can be 
drawn until the air pressure in the tank drops to a point where it will no 
longer cause a strong flow. The other disadvantage is that the water in the 
tank slowly absorbs the air and will eventually absorb all of it unless more 
air is pumped in. The usual way of overcoming the latter defect is to in- 
stall an automobile-tire pump valve in the base of the tank or in one of the 
pipes leading into the base. When the tank becomes waterlogged, the air can 
then be replenished by pumping air into the tank with the tire pump. The 

Water Supply 


air can also be replenished by temporarily cutting off the tank from the 
spring and from the plumbing systems and by emptying it. A system of 
valves for doing this is shown in Fig. 27.10. This operation is a manual one, 
also; but it is less tedious. 

Another method of utilizing a spring with a strong head but small flow 
is to construct a gravity storage tank in the house attic. It has several dis- 
advantages. The house frame must be strengthened to hold the weight of the 
tank and the water it will contain. There is always the danger of leaks. Also, 
water stored in the tank in hot weather may become too warm for drinking. 
If there is a high hill near the house, a gravity storage tank can sometimes 
be built underground in the hill; but few houses are located close enough 
to hills with sufficient height. In warm climates, a gravity storage tank can 
be placed on a tower outside the house; but in cold climates, it will freeze 
in the wintertime. 

{Courtesy F. E. Myers & Biuthcis Company.) 
Fig. 27.11. — Automatic shallow-well water system with piston pump. 

If electricity is available, the most satisfactory and economical way of 
utilizing a spring that has sufficient head to force water to the house but 
not enough to produce a strong flow is to run the spring water into a tank 
in the basement, then to pump it from there to the plumbing system. A 
small automatic water system is adequate in such an installation because 
the load on the pump is light. 


New Houses from Old 

Pumps and Hydraulic Rams 

Pumps. The action of a pump is often referred to as suction, but this is 
an unfortunate misnomer. Pumps work by taking advantage of atmospheric 

> k .t;Ui».\ 

:^N V 






ni 1 



Fig. 27.12. — A. Automatic shallow-well water system with jet pump. 

pressure. At sea level the atmosphere presses on everything, including the 
water in wells, with an average pressure of 14.7 lb. per sq. in. This pressure 
decreases about 1 lb. per sq. in. for every rise of 1,320 ft. in altitude. If 
one end of a pipe is inserted in a body of water and the air is removed from 

Water Supply 


the other end of the pipe, the pressure of the atmosphere will force water 
upward into the pipe. All that a pump does is remove the air, or the water 
after the pumping action is under way, from the upper end of the pipe; 

{Courtesy F. E. Myers & Brothers Company.) 
Fig. 27.12. — B. Automatic deep-well system with jet pump. 

the atmosphere does the rest. Theoretically, at sea level the water should 
rise 34 ft. in the pipe; but since pumps are not perfect, this height is never 
achieved. The practical "suction lift" of pumps is usually taken to be 22 ft. 
at sea level, 21 ft. at an altitude of 1,320 ft., 17 ft. at an altitude of 1 mile, 

476 New Houses from Old 

and 14 ft. at an altitude of 2 miles. Some manufacturers will guarantee their 
pumps to have somewhat greater suction lifts. If the pump is made by a 
reputable manufacturer and installed according to his directions, the guar- 
antee is usually fulfilled. 

The distance, measured vertically, from the water level in the well in 
dry weather to the pump determines whether a shallow well pump or a deep 
well pump is required. If this distance is greater than the suction lift of a 
shallow well pump, a deep well pump will be needed. A deep well pump 
operates on the same suction principle as a shallow well pump; but the 
piston and cylinder, or jet body, are placed down in the well, usually above 
the water level but near enough to it so that atmospheric pressure will push 
the water up to the cylinder, or jet, when the pump is operating. 

The piston pump (Fig. 27.11) is a reliable type, which, until the de- 
velopment of the jet pump, was practically standard in small automatic 
water systems. It is still made and sold in large numbers. The jet pump 
(Fig. 27.12) is a development of recent times. Its mechanism is extremely 
simple. It can be used with either shallow or deep wells, and it has the 
further advantage of not having to be installed directly over the well, even 
though the well is a deep one. Instead, the pump can be located in the base- 
ment or elsewhere in the house, and the pair of pipes that carry water to the 
jet and carry water up from the well can be run laterally from the pump to 
the well. 

Domestic water systems are rated by manufacturers according to the 
number of gallons they will pump per hour under average conditions. A 
system with a rated capacity of 250 gal. per hr. is usually large enough for 
a one-bathroom plumbing system, but a larger system is usually required 
if the system includes two bathrooms or if the pump must also supply water 
to the barn. 

Water systems are furnished with pressure tanks ranging from as few as 
6 gal. to 100 gal., or even larger. With a large tank the pump will start 
less frequently but will run longer when it starts. Large pressure tanks have 
the disadvantage of storing the water long enough to allow it to reach a 
temperature that is not pleasant for drinking. This difficulty is circumvented 
in some installations by connecting the cold-water faucet at the kitchen sink 
to a line attached between the pump and the pressure tank; but even with 
this connection, cool water can be drawn in warm weather only when the 
pump operates. On the other hand, a system with a small pressure tank 
may be a nuisance if it is installed where it can be heard in the bedrooms, 
because it will start in the night whenever a small quantity of water is drawn 
or even when a slowly dripping faucet reduces the pressure in the tank. 

Water Supply 


Some water systems have no tanks, or relatively small ones, but prove quite 
satisfactory under the right conditions. They start whenever a faucet is 

(Courtesy Goulds Pumps, Inc.) 
Fig. 27.13. — "Tankless" automatic shallow-well water system. 

Hydraulic rams. The hydraulic ram is a simple mechanism that utilizes 
the energy of a volume of water that is moving under a certain head to 
force a smaller amount of water against a greater head. It requires no other 
power, and maintenance costs are very low. Nevertheless, its use in water- 
supply systems is liinited. An adequate supply of water is not always avail- 
able; and, if it is available, a fairly large tank must be used to store the water 
pumped by the ram. Rams are used most commonly in connection with 
springs; but artesian wells and even surface streams are sometimes used to 
power them. Double-acting rams use one source of water for power and 
deliver water from another source, but they must be used with caution, for 

478 New Houses from Old 

pollution of the water that is pumped to the house is possible in a ram 
of this type if the ram gets out of adjustment. 

A hydraulic ram will force water to a gravity storage tank considerably 
higher than the level of the water that operates the ram, or it will force it 
into a pneumatic storage tank. Only a portion of the water is forced into 
the storage tank. The rest is used to operate the ram. The amount of water 
"wasted" by the ram depends on several factors, the most important of 
which is the height of the gravity storage tank or the pressure in the pneu- 
matic tank. 

To find approximately how many gallons of water per hour a ram will 
deliver to a gravity storage tank, multiply the number of gallons available 
per minute for driving the ram by the head that will be on this water at 
the point where the ram is to be installed. Multiply this product by 40 and 
divide the result by the height in feet of the storage tank above the ram. 
If the water is to be delivered to a pneumatic storage tank, go through the 
same steps of multiplication, but divide the product by the height of this 
tank above the ram plus the pressure in the tank converted to head. Thus, 
if the pneumatic storage tank is located 20 ft. above the ram and if the 
average pressure in the tank will be 30 lb. per sq. in., the divisor is 89 
[20 + (30 X 2.3)]. Any manufacturer or retailer of rams will check your 
calculations for you if you will send him the data on which you have based 



Sewage Disposal 

L F THE HOUSE you are remodeling is located in a community where there 
is a public sewer system, the plumbing drainage system will, of course, be 
connected to the public sewer. In such a community, a permit to connect to 
the public sewer must be obtained, and the manner of making the connec- 
tion and also of constructing the house sewer will be prescribed by law. 
If the house already has plumbing, the house sewer may or may not be 
constructed according to good standards; but if there is no odor of sewage 
in the basement and no evidence of stoppage, it may, in most cases, be 
assumed to be in good working order. If and when it becomes necessary to 
rebuild it, the directions that will be given later in this chapter for the con- 
struction of house drains and sewers may be followed unless a local code 
prescribes some other method of construction. 

In some communities with public sewers the discharge into the sewer of 
rain water as well as sewage is permitted. Combination systems of this type 
will not be described in this book because, where they exist, the sewer must 
be constructed according to the local code. However, certain recommenda- 
tions pertaining to such systems are included in the National Bureau of 
Standards' Recommended Minimum Requirements for Plumbing. Rain water 
should never be discharged into a private sewage-disposal system. 

If the house is situated where there is no public sewer, a private sewage- 
disposal system must be constructed. In most organized villages and cities, 
the building of private sewage-disposal systems is regulated by a plumbing 
or sanitary code. In some states there are state-wide regulations that apply 
even to systems constructed in rural regions. Although the provisions of 
any such laws or codes should be ascertained and complied with, there are 
few, if any, communities in which the septic-tank disposal system that is 
described below will fail to meet the requirements. 

Septic-tank Disposal Systems 

Fig. 28.1 is a diagram of a good type of sewage-disposal system. Note 
that it consists of five main parts — the house sewer, the septic tank, the 



New Houses from Old 

outlet sewer, the disposal field, and the sludge drain. The locations of the 
principal parts should be staked out at least tentatively before any of them 
are constructed and, preferably, before the plumbing is installed in the 
house. Spacing and dimensions will be given as each part is discussed. 





SLUDGE — *- 

/ / 


TANK J^ ^ 


OUTLET <;? FIELD /,<:^ 


I I I .I II — ^ 1 "~ 







\ \ 


Fig. 28.1. — Diagram of sewage-disposal system. 

Septic tanks. Unlike the cesspool, the septic tank is designed to hold the 
sewage for a time after it has been discharged into it. While the sewage is in 
the tank, it is partly decomposed by bacteria — called anaerobic bacteria — 
that thrive in the absence of air. A layer of lightweight material called 
scum accumulates on top of the tank contents, and a layer of heavier ma- 
terial called sludge gradually accumulates on the bottom of a septic tank 
in operation. These are products of the normal operation of the tank. The 
discharge from a good septic tank is much less offensive and dangerous than 
raw sewage, but it is still material that must be disposed of with care. No 
septic tank will turn sewage into clear water fit to drink, as you may some- 
times be told. 

Any septic tank, whether it is factory made or built on the job, should 
be large enough to hold the average amount of sewage that will be produced 
by the household during a period of twenty-four hours. Fifty gallons of 
sewage per person per day can be used as the basis for determining the 
minimum size for a prefabricated tank that is to be purchased. However, a 
tank of larger capacity should be provided if possible, since the action in 

Sewage Disposal 


the tank will be more complete if the sewage remains in it for a longer 
average period, even as long as sixty hours. If the tank is constructed in 
place, there is no point whatever in building one of bare minimum capacity. 
Good sizes for family-size tanks are given below. The smallest tank listed 
is the size usually built, as it has adequate capacity for a household of up 
to five persons, and it will still operate satisfactorily if the house is occupied 
for short periods by twice as many persons. 

Fig . 28.2 
Typical Dimensions for Small Rectangular Septic Tanks 

Inside dimensions, feet 



















The septic tank should be placed downgrade from the house. If possible, 
it should be at least 100 ft. from the house, but tanks placed as close as 50 
ft. are not offensive if they are of adequate size and correctly built. It should 
be not less than 100 ft. from the well or from some other water supply. 

The septic tank is usually the first unit placed or constructed in the dis- 
posal system. If a prefabricated tank is used, the excavation is made and 
the tank is lowered into it; if the tank is to be homemade, the excavation 
is made and the tank is built in it. Prefabricated septic tanks are usually 
made of heavy sheet steel, which is painted on both sides with a bituminous 
paint or other anticorrosion compound. Excellent tanks can also be built 
of poured concrete. Directions for making the latter type can be obtained 
from the Portland Cement Association, from the United States Department 
of Agriculture, and from the public health departments of most states. 

The house sewer. The house sewer extends from the septic tank to a point 
5 ft. from the house measured from the inside face of the basement wall. 
The sewer should be constructed without turns if possible. If turns are un- 
avoidable, they should be gradual. Curved pieces of pipe known as bends 
are used for turns. One-sixteenth bends are better, but one-eighth bends can 
be used if necessary. 


New Houses from Old 

The easiest way to establish the grade is to set stakes on each side of the 
line of the sewer at the house and to connect these with a board leveled 
horizontally (Fig. 28.3). Additional pairs of stakes are then set astride the 
line about 10 ft. apart along its length. The last pair is set at the septic tank 
and is also connected with a board leveled horizontally. This board (2) 
should be the same height above the septic tank inlet as board (1) is above 





'^ mmmy^ '^''^^'''''^"^^'''-^"'^ 

UN— J 


10 FT 6 IN. 




thickness of the small block at the end of the 
straight edge is selected to produce the desired 
grade. thus the block shown in d will establish 
a grade line with a slope of i in. in 10 feet. 

Fig. 28.3. 

the sewer at the house. The intermediate stakes are then connected with 
boards, and the tops of these boards are lined up by sighting from board 
(2) to board (1). A line is next stretched from the board at (1) to the 
board at (2). It should be nailed firmly to these boards, but it is held in 
position on the intermediate boards with half-driven nails so that it can 
be pushed out of the way as the trench is being dug. 

This method is applicable whenever there is no doubt about adequate 
slope from the house to the septic tank. The minimum slope that is recom- 

Sewage Disposal 


mended for a 6-in. sewer line is 1 in. in 8 ft.; whereas 4-in. sewer lines 
should be laid on slopes of at least 1 in, in 4 or 5 ft. If there is very little 
natural slope, the grade must be established carefully. This can be done 
by first making the tops of the stakes level both across the line of the sewer 
and lengthwise of it. The lengthwise leveling can be done easily by using 
a carpenter's level supported on a stiff straight-edged piece of lumber that 
is long enough to reach from one pair of stakes to the next. After the tops 
of the stakes are all level, boards are nailed temporarily across the pairs at 
(1) and (2) and the vertical distance from each board to the proposed line 
of the sewer is measured. If the difference is not great enough to give ade- 
quate slope to the sewer, the starting point of the sewer at the house wall 
should be raised, even though this requires cutting a hole through a rather 
thick masonry wall. The board at (2) is then moved downward so that its 
top is the same height above the septic-tank inlet of the sewer as the board 
at (1) is above the house end of the sewer. The intermediate stakes are then 
connected with boards that are positioned by sighting as described above. 

Fig. 28.4. — Using grade stick to establish correct depth of trench for the sewer. 

As the trench for the sewer is dug, its depth is found by measuring with 
a grade stick (Fig. 28.4). The sewer should be laid, if possible, on undis- 
turbed soil; therefore, care is taken to excavate the trench only to the exact 
depth required. If the house sewer must be placed on new fill, the soil at 
the bottom of the trench should be solidly tamped and extra-heavy cast-iron 
soil pipe should be used to construct the sewer. If soil conditions are ex- 
ceptionally poor, it may be necessary to line the bottom of the sewer. A 
concrete lining or grillage may be required by the local plumbing code. 
However, if concrete is not required, planks that have been impregnated 


New Houses from Old 

with creosote can be placed in the bottom of the trench to make a carriage 
for the sewer. These treated planks should be purchased. Untreated lumber 
or lumber merely painted at home with creosote should never be used, be- 
cause its eventual decay would cause the sewer line to settle and to crack. 

The house sewer can be built of either cast-iron soil pipe, vitrified clay 
sewer pipe, or impregnated fiber pipe. Cast-iron soil pipe and fittings have 
been described in Chapter 26. Vitrified clay sewer pipe is manufactured 
in 2- and 2/2 -ft- lengths. Impregnated fiber pipe is made in 4-ft. lengths. 
Cast-iron soil pipe and impregnated fiber pipe offer the advantage of fewer 
joints, but clay sewer pipe is commonly used. Good sewers have been made 
of cast-iron soil pipe as small as 3-in. nominal diameter, but the 4-in. 
diameter is more commonly employed. The 4-in. diameter is the recom- 
mended size in impregnated fiber pipe. If vitrified clay pipe is used, the 6-in. 
diameter is recommended, because this pipe has rougher interior surfaces 
and the increased number of joints also offers some resistance to the flow of 

The joints in the house sewer should be made tight for obvious reasons. 
The making of oakum and lead joints is described in Chapter 26. The 
standard method of making joints in vitrified clay sewer pipe is as follows. 
The hub end of a length of pipe is inserted in the bell end of another length. 
A piece of oakum or hemp rope that is long enough to go around the pipe 








Fig. 28.5. — A. Sewer joint details. B. Section of Portland cement joint. C. Sec- 
tion of joint made with bituminous compound. D. Method of holding hot joint 
compounds in hub. (See also Fig. 26.6.) 

Sewage Disposal 485 

one and one-half or two times is thoroughly wet with Portland-cement mortar. 
It is then wrapped around the hub end of the pipe and shoved into the joint 
with a calking iron in such a way as to center the hub in the bell. Portland- 
cement mortar composed of 1 part cement and 2 parts sand is then packed 
into the joint and is rounded over the bell (Fig. 28.5). The best tool for 
shaping the mortar is your hand with a cotton or leather glove on it to 
protect the skin. Impregnated fiber pipe is made with beveled ends. The 
joint is made simply by driving the beveled end of the pipe into a special 
collar. If there are trees in the neighborhood of the house sewer, it is im- 
portant to make the joints rootproof. 

There are various brands of bituminous joint compounds on the market 
that may be used to make good rootproof joints in either cast iron or clay 
pipe. Compounds of this type have a certain amount of flexibility that will 
help to maintain a tight joint if the sewer settles slightly. Most but not all 
of the bituminous compounds require some heat to make them fluid before 
they are poured into the joint. The manufacturers' instructions should be 
followed in using such compounds; but the usual method is to pack the 
joint to the depth of about 1 in. with oakum or hemp rope, then to pour the 
heated material into the joint. The liquid material is held in the joint by 
use of an asbestos runner or clay dam (Fig. 28.5). Rootproof joints can be 
made also with commercial brands of sulphur joint compounds or with a 
mixture of equal volumes of powdered sulphur and fine sand. Sulphur 
compounds must be heated and poured into the joint. Sulphur-sand joints 
resist the penetration of tree roots very effectively, but they are extremely 
hard and have little flexibility. 

Since some of the joint compound will be squeezed into the interior of 
the pipe in spite of the packing, it is necessary to swab out the pipe as the 
sewer and the drain are laid. The swab is placed in the first length of pipe 
and is drawn through it as the line is laid. If the sewer and drain are being 
made of long lengths of rigid pipe, such as soil pipe, several lengths of 
pipe can be jointed together on top of the ground, then lowered carefully 
into the trench. The soil in the bottom of the trench should be scooped out 
under the bells or hubs of the pipe so that the entire length of the pipe will 
rest on the bottom of the trench. 

The joints should be tested before the sewer is put into use. The lower end 
of the line is plugged, then the line is filled with water. Any joints that leak 
should be made tight before the line is covered up. 

Filling of the trench (backfilling) should be carefully done. Soil that is 
free of vegetable matter and stones is placed on both sides of the line to 
about the height of the pipe and is carefully tamped. Next, more soil that 
also is free of stones is placed over the pipe but is not tamped. Finally, the 


New Houses from Old 

remainder of the trench is filled with soil that may contain some stones but 
should not contain large ones. 

The disposal field. The disposal field is an essential part of a septic-tank 
sewage-disposal system, for it is here that soil bacteria act on the liquid 
from the septic tank and complete the purification process. The disposal 
field should be located 200 ft. or more from the house and at least 200 ft. 
from the well. The minimum length of tile for disposal fields placed in 
loose soils is 30 ft. for each person normally in the household. Considerably 
greater lengths may be necessary in clay or other tight soils. The field should 
be laid out so that the lines can be extended if, after the field has been in 
use for a while, the soil above the lines becomes soggy or odorous, as these 
conditions indicate that the area of the field is inadequate. The lines are 
spaced about 10 ft. apart. They should be graded so that they will have a 
fall of 1 in. in 25 ft. in loose soils and 1 in. in 50 ft. in tight soils. 










BASIN -^-r^) 








Fig. 28.6. — A. Disposal lines laid on the contours of a slope. B. Small concrete 
basin used to connect lines without introducing a steep pitch into the outlet sewer. 

Sewage Disposal 


The lines of tile in the disposal field can be made of perforated fiber 
pipe or of clay draintile. The joints between lengths of perforated fiber 
pipe are made with snap couplings that are purchased with the pipe. Unlike 
clay sewer pipe, clay draintile has plain ends. The lengths of tile are simply 
butted together and the joints are covered by wrapping them with strips of 
tarred paper or lightweight asphalt roofing. The sole purpose of the paper 
is to keep soil out of t^e lines. If the field is located on a slope, the lines 
should be run on the contour as diagramed in Fig. 28.6. In loose soils the 
lines should be laid to a depth of 15 to 18 in. A greater depth is not per- 
missible, because it will place them below the region inhabited by the soil 
bacteria that act on the effluent from the lines. In loose soils they can be 
placed directly on the bottom of the trench. In tight soils the trench should 
be dug deeper and then partly filled with gravel (Fig. 28.7). 





Fig. 28.7. — Trench construction for disposal lines in tight soils. 

The house drain. The house drain is that portion of the sewer line that 
begins 5 ft. outside the house wall and includes also all the horizontal por- 
tion of the sewer that is inside the house walls. This part of the sewer 
system is usually made of cast-iron soil pipe. The medium weight is satis- 
factory for the parts of the drain that are above ground, but the extra-heavy 
weight should be used for the parts that are buried in the soil. Joints in a 
house drain made of cast-iron soil pipe should be made with oakum and 

488 New Houses from Old 

lead. One precaution to observe in connection with the house drain, if it is 
buried in the soil of the basement, is to keep it at least 3 ft. from the founda- 
tion Vail wherever it runs parallel to tlie wall. 

The outlet sewer. The outlet sewer runs between the septic-tank outlet 
and the disposal field. It should be built in the same way as the house sewer. 

The sludge drain. The sludge drain empties into a sludge pit, which need 
be only a simple excavation covered with boards and soil. The pit should 
be located at some point where there is no danger of polluting the water 
supply or surface streams. It can be used indefinitely if the soil and boards 
are removed and if the solid matter in it is shoveled out and burned before 
new sludge is drained into it. A sludge pit is necessary even though no 
sludge drain is included in the septic tank. In this case, the contents of the 
septic tank are bailed or pumped into the sludge pit, which is then covered 
with boards and soil and left covered until it is necessary to use it again. 

Care of a septic-tank sewage-disposal system. Sewers, septic tanks, and 
disposal lines in constant use seldom freeze even in severe climates when they 
are covered with 15 to 18 in. of soil. The heat carried into them in the 
sewage together with the heat generated by the bacterial action is sufficient 
to prevent freezing. They may freeze, however, if the system is not in use 
during cold weather. The house sewer should need no wintertime protection, 
because if it has been properly constructed, it will be empty when the house 
plumbing is not in use. The septic tank, the outlet sewer, and the lines of 
tile in the disposal field can be protected by covering them with about 3 ft. 
of hay or straw. This material is, of course, raked off with the return of 
warm weather. If you are remodeling the house for a summer home, it will, 
therefore, be advisable to mark the location of the disposal lines carefully 
so that they can be covered in the fall. 

The disposal field should be kept free of trees and shrubs, since their 
roots would clog the disposal lines. Grass can be grown on the disposal 
field, but it should not be used for a vegetable garden. 

After the septic tank has been in use for about a year, the slab at the inlet 
end should be removed and the depth of the sludge and scum tested with a 
stick. If their combined depths are 20 in. or more, the tank should be 
emptied. Avoid the use of matches or flame of any kind while making this 
test, as explosive gases may be present in the tank. 


Years ago, cesspools were widely used for the disposal of sewage, but 
their use is forbidden now in many localities. Even where they are not 
barred by law, they should not be used except under very special condi- 

Sewage Disposal 489 

tions. Essentially, a cesspool is only an open-bottomed, stone-walled excava- 
tion that holds the sewage until it leaches away through the soil. If a cess- 
pool is built in a thick deposit of gravelly or sandy soil, some purifying 
action may take place in the soil under the cesspool; but the average cess- 
pool exerts little or no such action on sewage. Since a cesspool discharges 
raw sewage into the soil, it should be used for sewage disposal only under 
the following conditions. The water supply for the house should come from 
a distant point located uphill from the cesspool. The cesspool should be 
placed 300 ft. or more downgrade from the house. Its location should be 
such that there will be no danger of its polluting a surface stream or the 
water supply of another house. The walls of a cesspool should be con- 
structed so that they will not cave in, but watertight construction is not 

Occasionally a cesspool is used in place of a disposal field to receive the 
discharge from a septic tank. This arrangement is satisfactory only if the 
cesspool is built in loose soil and if it is located at least 300 ft. from the 
house and the water supply. 



Wiring and Lighting 

-L HE INSTALLATION of electrical wiring requires skill, a knowledge of code 
requirements, and experience with wiring materials and methods. The actual 
work should be done by a licensed electrician, if possible. Whether the 
wiring is installed by a licensed electrician or not, the installation should 
be carried out according to the provisions of the National Electrical Code 
or a local electrical code that is at least its equal. 

As in plumbing and heating, the planning of the wiring of existing houses 
requires careful attention. An existing house can be wired just as satisfac- 
torily for electricity as a new house, provided that the preliminary planning 


Fig. 29.1. — The main elements of the house "service" from the power line to 

is well done. Planning includes both a judicious location of fixtures and out- 
lets and an economical location for the wiring. To plan the latter, it is 
necessary to take the structure of the house into account in order to avoid 
costly cutting of walls and ceilings. 


Wiring and Lighting 


Design of Wiring Systems 

Volts, amperes, and watts. The simplest way to understand the terminology 
of electric current as it is used in connection with house wiring and house- 
hold appliances is to make an analogy between electric current flowing in 
a wire and water flowing in a pipe. Volts will then correspond to the water 
pressure, and amperes will correspond to the quantity of water. Watts are 
the number of volts multiplied by the number of amperes. Thus, a current 
of 8 amperes under a pressure of 110 volts represents 880 watts. A kilowatt 
is 1,000 watts. Watt-hours and kilowatt-hours are simply watts or kilowatts 
multiplied by time. Thus, if you switch on an electric heater that is rated 
1,000 watts and leave it turned on for an hour, the heater will use 1,000 watt- 
hours, or 1 kilowatt-hour. 

In many modern installations, electricity is supplied to houses at two 
voltages. How this is done is diagramed in Fig. 29.1, which shows what is 
called a three-wire service. The voltage across the two outside wires of a 
three-wire service is the maximum voltage. In the United States, this varies 
from 220 to 240 volts. The voltage across the middle wire of the three and 
either of the outside wires is one-half the maximum voltage, hence it ranges 







the control center in the house. A shows the parts. B is a wiring diagram. 

from 110 to 120. Electric light bulbs, such as are used in houses, and small 
electrical appliances are designed to operate on 110 to 120 volts. On the 
other hand, household appliances, such as electric water heaters and electric 
ranges, which use relatively large quantities of current, are designed for 


New Houses from Old 

220 to 240 volts. In selecting household electrical equipment, a small varia- 
tion in voltage is not important. For example, it is permissible to connect 
an appliance that has 115 volts on the name plate to a 120-volt circuit, but 
such an appliance should not be connected to a 220-volt circuit. 

Most old houses have two-wire rather than three-wire service, but prac- 
tically all house installations now being made are three-wire. If the house 
you are remodeling is already wired, you can tell whether it has two-wire 
or three-wire service by seeing whether two or three wires run from the 
power line to the house. If there are only two wires and if you plan to 
modernize the wiring in order to use some equipment that operates on the 
higher voltage (Fig. 29.2), you should find out from the utility company 
before planning the wiring whether a three-wire service will be supplied. 

Fig. 29.2 

Voltage Requirements and Approximate Wattage of Typical Appliances 

110 to 120 volts * 


Watts t 


Watts t 



Oil-burner motor 




Sun lamp 


Curling iron 


Vacuum cleaner 


Heating pad 


Coffee maker 


Sewing machine 





75 to 120 

Garbage-disposal unit 


Food mixer 


Television receiver 


Radio receiver 



800 to 1,000 

Electric blanket 



800 to 1,200 

Heating-system blower 







550 to 1,000 

Food freezer 

350 to 450 

Waffle iron 


Washing machine with wringer 

375 to 400 



Washing machine with spinner 

375 to 1,200 

Electric roaster 


220 to 240 volts * 


Water heater 

Watts t 

7,000 to 14,000 
1,000 to 4,500 

* These groups are not absolutely fixed; for example, some built-in electric heaters are designed for 
220 to 240 volts. 

t To find number of amperes, divide watts by volts. 

Wiring and Lighting 


Types of circuits. The main elements of a modern house-wiring system 
are diagramed in Fig. 29.3. Circuit protective centers would be a better 
name for the "control centers," because the main elements of these centers 
are the fuses or circuit breakers that protect the circuits from overloading; 
but "control center" is used in the recent literature. The branch control 

A B 







Fig. 29.3. — 1. Special circuit for clock only. 2. General-purpose circuit; supplies 
three lights in kitchen, two lights in lower hall, two entrance lights, and two duplex 
convenience outlets in lower hall. 3. Individual equipment circuit; supplies re- 
frigerator. 4. Individual equipment circuit; supplies electric sink (dishwasher and 
garbage-disposal unit). 5, 6. Appliance circuits. Together they supply eight duplex 
outlets for small appliances in the kitchen and dining room. 

center, which is supplied with current through a "feeder" from the main 
control center, is a modern idea that is seldom found in old wiring installa- 
tions. In new houses, the main argument for branch centers is convenience, 
since they avoid the necessity of going to the basement to replace fuses. In 
remodeling, one or more branch control centers correctly located may solve 
a number of wiring problems. 

A general-purpose circuit is a light-duty circuit with a maximum capacity 
of 15 amperes. It contains a 15-ampere fuse or circuit breaker, and no fixed 


New Houses from Old 




mm. (2% DROP 







^ Tbranch 

'^^^^ -(circuits 

— [2% DROP 








75 100 125 





c/j 4000 ■ 

z 3500 

£ 3000 






























25 50 

75 100 125 


150 175 200 

Wiring and Lighting 








^, #6 




1= _ 
< 6000 






■ #8 ■ 






§ 4500~ 


£ - 

— #12 ■ 

. #12 














25 50 75 100 125 






12000 - 



tn 9000- 


z 8000- 













"A #4 





























25 50 75 100 125 150 175 200 


{Courtesy Westinghouse Electric Corporation.") 

Fig. 29.4. — A. Allowable voltage drops in the house wiring system. B to E. Recom- 
mended wire sizes for (B) 115 volts, 2 per cent maximum drop; (C) 230 volts, 
2 per cent maximum drop; {D) 230 volts, 2% per cent maximum drop; {E) 230 
volts, 1 per cent maximum drop. Sizes are indicated thus: "#12," meaning No. 12 
copper conductor wire. 

496 New Houses from Old 

appliance that draws more than 6 amperes or portable appliance that draws 
more than 10 amperes should be connected to it. Appliance circuits are used 
for the receptacle outlets in such rooms as the kitchen, laundry, dining 
room, and garage, where several appliances may be in use at one time. The 
maximum capacity of an appliance circuit is 20 amperes, and no single 
appliance that draws more than 15 amperes should be attached to it. In- 
dividual equipment circuits are used to supply such appliances as electric 
ranges, oil burners, clothes driers, built-in room heaters, and water heaters. 
Only one appliance is connected to a single circuit of this type, and the cir- 
cuit is sized to fit the requirements of the particular appliance. 

The laying out of circuits is one of the very important steps in planning 
satisfactory house wiring. As a general rule, when wiring is installed in a 
house already finished, it is best to plan the layout of the general-purpose 
and appliance circuits on the first floor so that they can be installed from the 
basement. The control center for these circuits can be placed either in the 
basement or the kitchen. The general-purpose and the appliance circuits, if 
any, for the second floor and attic can then be laid out so that they can be 
supplied from a branch control center on the second floor. The ceiling light- 
ing outlets on the first floor are included in general-purpose circuits for the 
second floor. Individual equipment circuits for the first floor are usually 
run from the main control center. If equipment such as a built-in electric 
heater is installed in the second floor or attic, individual equipment circuits 
can be run from the branch control center on the second floor. The location 
of outlets on a general-purpose or appliance circuit should be planned so 
that the chances of overloading the circuit by using all of the outlets at 
one time will be small. For example, six outlets on a single general-purpose 
circuit might be divided as follows: one lighting outlet and one baseboard 
outlet in the upstairs hall, one outlet in the living-room ceiling, and three 
outlets in a bedroom. In rooms such as the living room, where portable 
lamps are attached to most of the outlets, it is a good idea to provide two 
circuits so that if a fuse blows on one circuit, all of the lights in the room 
will not go out. 

Excessively long circuits should be avoided if possible. When long circuits 
cannot be avoided in remodeling, larger wire (Fig. 29.4) must be used. 
The term "voltage drop" used in this figure needs a few words of explana- 
tion. Referring back to our analogy between water flowing through a pipe 
and electric current flowing in a wire, it is easy to see that a small pipe will 
offer considerable resistance to the flow of a large quantity of water. Sim- 
ilarly, a small wire offers resistance to the flow of a large current of elec- 
tricity. The effect of the resistance is to cause some of the power to be used 
up in the wire rather than in the lights or appliances. This waste is called 

Wiring and Lighting 


"voltage drop" for technical reasons. Voltage drop cannot be entirely 
avoided, but it can be kept within economical limits by using wire of ade- 
quate size. A 2 per cent voltage drop is considered acceptable in all of 
the house circuits except those that carry large amounts of current. Circuits 
to water heaters and to ranges should be made of large enough wire to keep 
the voltage drop to 1 per cent. 

Wiring symbols. Standard wiring symbols are shown in Fig. 29.5. These 
symbols, of course, bear no resemblance to the equipment that they repre- 
sent. Fig. 29.6 shows how the locations of outlets and switches are indicated 
on house plans. Wires from the switches to the lights are not actually run 
along the path indicated in such plans. The line drawn from a light location 
to a switch location merely indicates to the electrician that the light is to be 
switch controlled from a switch placed in the position shown on the plan. 



(f) -<f) fan outlet. 
-q) junction box. 
-© lamp holder. 


© -(c) CLOCK OUTLET (Specify Voltage) 







=0-[r] radio and convenience OUTLET 



























Fig, 29.5, — Electrical symbols used in house 
Standards Association Standard ASA Z32.9- 

plans (in 
1943) , 

accordance with American 


New Houses from Old 

Fig, 29.6. — Outlets and switches indicated by standard symbols on plan of kitchen. 



Fig. 29.7.— Wiring types. 

Wiring and Lighting 499 

Wiring Materials 

Protection of the wires. Although insulated wire is always used in house 
wiring, the insulation alone is not enough protection. Three types of addi- 
tional protection are used in house wiring. These are known as knob and 
tube, conduit, and armored cable. In knob and tube wiring (Fig. 29.7), the 
wires are protected only at points where, without protection, they would 
rest on parts of the house structure. Knob and tube wiring is found often in 
old houses; but it is not much used at the present time. 

Metal pipe or rectangular metal channels are used to protect the wires in 
conduit wiring. Metal conduits give maximum protection to the wires, but 
they, also, are difficult to install in a finished house; hence, even when a 
house is already wired in conduits, extensions to the system are usually 
made with armored cable. However, metal conduits are sometimes useful 
for part of the wiring system in remodeling. A typical use is to protect the 
wires that are run from the main control center in the basement to a branch 
control center on the second floor. In such a case, the conduit is concealed 
behind furring or is run at the back of a closet or behind a cupboard. If 
the run is entirely vertical, the conduit can sometimes be installed inside a 
wall without opening it, in the same way that a water pipe is installed 
(Chapter 26). The wires are not usually in the conduit when it is pur- 
chased. Instead, the conduit is installed in the house, then the wires are 
fished through it. 

In armored cable wiring, the insulated wires are protected by a tough 
fiber or metal sheath. Nonmetallic armored cable is flexible and can be 
fished easily through walls, but its use is not yet permitted by all electrical 
codes, possibly because it does not offer the same degree of protection as 
metal-armored cable against gnawing by rats and mice, perforation by nails, 
and other mechanical injury. Metal-armored cable (Fig. 29.7) is the most 
widely used type of wiring material in remodeling. It offers good protection 
to the wires, it is flexible, and it can be fished easily with little cutting into 
finished walls and ceilings. This type of cable is popularly known as B-X. 

Fittings. Accessories and fittings that are appropriate to the wire pro- 
tective material are necessary elements of the wiring system. These acces- 
sories and fittings include hangers, junction boxes, boxes for switches and 
convenience outlets, and outlets for lighting fixtures. They are usually made 
of steel, but fittings made of incombustible fiber are also available. Metal 
boxes are made with "knockouts" which are preformed so that openings 
can be made in the box at desired places by striking a knockout with a 
hammer. Fittings are equipped with screw holes and ears so that their at- 


New Houses from Old 

tachment to the house structure is simple. They include also clamps or set 
screws for securing the cable where it enters the box, and outlets for light- 
ing fixtures have screws for attachment of the fixture. 

Switches. The old style of wall switch with two push buttons has now been 
almost superseded by toggle switches. Two general types of toggle switches 
are available. The commoner type has metallic contacts and therefore makes 
a click when the switch is turned on or off. In mercury switches, a small 
globule of mercury, which is sealed in a glass tube, is used to make the 
contact. Mercury switches are noiseless and are therefore a desirable type 
for bedrooms and nurseries. 

The ordinary house switch is designed to be operated from one point. 
It is called a two-way switch because it has only two positions, on or off. 
Three-way and four-way switches are constructed so that it is possible to 
open or close the circuit from two or three different locations. Switches of 
these kinds are used chiefly in connection with hall lights. The switch with 
a small pilot light is a useful type at some points in the house where the 
lights are remotely located in relation to the switch, as basement lights or 
lights in an attic used for storage. 











Fig. 29.8. 

Receptacles. Double receptacles are usually installed in present-day wir- 
ing because they provide two outlets at practically no additional expense. 

Wiring and Lighting 501 

Preferred locations for receptacles (convenience, outlets) are 12 to 18 in. 
above the floor in such rooms as living rooms and 48 in. above it in such 
areas as kitchens. Sometimes in remodeling, it is preferable to place some 
of the outlets in the floor, since, on the first floor, floor receptacles can be 
installed easily from the basement without disturbing the walls and base- 
boards. The ordinary type of receptacle is unsuitable for floor installation 
because dirt soon gets into it. The special receptacle shown in Fig. 29.8 is 
protected to some extent from this trouble. Floor receptacles should not be 
installed in a room such as a kitchen where the floor will be cleaned with 
water. Appliances that use current in the 220- to 240-volt range require 
special receptacles and plugs with three prongs, since such appliances are 
supplied with three-wire service. 

Control-center equipment. Control-center equipment is contained in fac- 
tory-made metal boxes. The shapes and arrangements of these boxes vary 
according to the special requirements of the system, such as the number of 
circuits and types of circuits to be supplied from each box. Conventional 
control-center equipment includes fuse blocks that are arranged so that there 
is at least one fuse in each circuit. Fuses are inconvenient because they must 
be replaced whenever overloading or short-circuiting of a circuit causes 
them to blow out. They are also somewhat hazardous because when a new 
fuse is not at hand, careless persons will sometimes short-circuit a blown 
fuse by placing a coin under it. The circuit breaker is a new type of protec- 
tive device that is free of the inconvenience of changing fuses and also of 
the coin hazard. Circuit breakers that are designed for house-wiring systems 
are more attractive in appearance than fuse blocks and hence are often in- 
stalled in plain view in the kitchen and at branch control centers. Circuit 
breakers are somewhat more expensive than conventional fuse blocks and 
fuses, but there is no expense for maintenance. 

If the lighting system is to be installed by a contractor, you will need to 
be concerned only about the choice of equipment, such as switches, that 
will be exposed when the system is complete. However, if you plan to make 
the installation yourself, it will be necessary for you to obtain a dealer's or 
manufacturer's catalogue that contains illustrations and descriptions of the 
various accessories and fittin2;s. 

Installation of Wiring 

The discussion under this heading will relate particularly to the installa- 
tion of metal-armored cable; but if you wish to install another type of wire 
protection in your remodeled house, you will find instructions in Richter's 


New Houses from Old 

Practical Electric Wiring and other books listed in Useful Books and 

Structural problems. Typical methods for gaining access to the interiors 
of walls and partitions are shown in Fig. 29.9. When cable is run vertically 
in a wall, the topmost hole is usually made first. One workman then lets 
down into the wall a small chain that has a metal weight at its end. If the 
second hole is needed at the bottom of the wall, the first workman raises 
the chain and drops it enough to cause the weight to knock on the bottom 









LINE x-X . 
AT y-y WILL 





Fig. 29.9. — Methods of gaining access to the interiors of finished partitions and 
ceilings. Figs. 26.14 and 26.15 also have application to the problem. 

of the wall. The second workman listens to ascertain the point of contact, 
then drills the second hole as closely as possible to this point. If the second 
hole is needed at a mid-point on the wall, as in installing a switch, the chain 
is moved in order to cause the weight to swing inside the wall and strike 
the inner sides. An electrician's snake (Fig. 29.10) can be used instead of a 
chain and scratched against the interior of the wall. It, however, may go off 
at an angle inside the wall. Interior partitions often contain bridging. The 
position of the bridging can be determined by sounding the wall with a 

Wiring and Lighting 


Fig. 29.10. — A. Fishing cable through a wall. A snake is lowered from above and 
fished for with another snake inserted from below. When the two snakes are 
hooked together, the cable is attached to the upper one and pulled downward. 
B. Fishing cable through a ceiling. C. Method of attaching cable to the snake. 












Fig. 29.11. — A. Supporting cable in unfloored attic when it runs in same direction 
as joist. B. When it runs across joists. C. Method of support on masonry walls. 


New Houses from Old 

hammer or with the handle of a screw driver. A small section of the wall 
covering adjacent to the bridging is then cut out, and a notch large enough 
for the cable is cut in the bridging. 

Cable is run through walls and ceilings by "fishing" it (Fig. 29.10). The 
standard tool for fishing is an electrician's snake, which is a long, flat piece 
of flexible steel with a hook on the end. If the snake lacks the hook when it 
is purchased, the hook can be formed with pliers after the end of the strip 
has been heated to a red heat. The snake is first passed through the wall, 
then the cable is attached to the hook and pulled into the wall. 



Fig. 29.12. — A. Armored cable installed between plaster grounds behind baseboard. 
B. Factory-made metal channel used for baseboard wiring. 

When it is necessary to run a cable under a finished floor, the run should 
parallel the floor joists if possible. If the floor is made of a single layer of 
boards, two sections of board are cut out, one at the start of the run and one 
at its end. The cuts should be made over joists so that the boards can be 
replaced easily. If the floor is made of two layers of boards, the top layer 
will usually run parallel to the floor joists and the lower layer Avill run 
across them. In most such floors, the top layer is constructed of tongued-and- 
grooved flooring. Removal and replacement of a strip of tongued-and-grooved 
flooring is illustrated in Fig. 22.6. Occasionally it happens that the strip of 
finish flooring that is removed was placed squarely over a joist. If this proves 
to be the case, it will be necessary to remove one or two additional strips. 
Often floor boards can be removed without damaging them much; but if the 
floor is a fine one, and particularly if it is made of flooring material that 
cannot be matched, it may be better to forego the fixture that requires 
cutting of the floor. 

Wiring and Lighting 


Cable is often run behind baseboards (Fig. 29.12) and cornices, and, of 
course, it can be concealed behind furring and behind built-in furniture such 
as corner cupboards and bookcases. If a suspended ceiling is built, cable can 
be installed behind it before the ceiling is covered. Metal baseboards which 
resemble wooden ones in shape but which are actually metal conduits (Fig. 
29.13) are also useful in remodeling. Still another method of installing 
wires in connection with baseboards is to use a special molding that is de- 
signed to be placed on the face of the baseboard or along its top. 

{Courtesy Charles E. Barnes & Son.) 
Fig. 29.13. — Metal conduit that serves also as a baseboard. 

Support for the cable and fixtures often involves structural problems. 
When the cable is run in the open, as along joists in the basement or wher- 
ever it will not be protected by a finished wall or ceiling, it should be sup- 
ported about every 2 ft. Cut steel staples specially manufactured for sup- 
porting this kind of cable are the most convenient type of support. The 
staples should be driven far enough to grip the cable but not so tightly that 
the cable is crushed. When the cable must be supported on a masonry base- 
ment wall, a board should first be firmly secured to the wall with cut nails 
or special fasteners for masonry. The cable is then stapled to the board. 

When flexible cable is installed in an unfloored attic, it should be placed 
between the joists wherever possible and supported as shown in Fig. 29.11. 


New Houses from Old 

Occasionally it is necessary to run the cable across the joists in the attic. 
When this is done, it should be protected as shown in the same figure. Some- 
times the running of cable across joists under flooring is unavoidable. 
When this must be done, the notches or holes should be placed as shown 
in Fiff. 17.19. 


Fig. 29.14. 

Lighting-fixture outlets must be solidly supported. A metal-bar hanger 
nailed to two ceiling joists is the best type of support, even though placing 
the hanger requires the cutting of a hole in the ceiling. Switch boxes are 
best supported on a metal hanger that is nailed to studs or other solid 
wood. These hangers are standard articles that can be purchased from dealers 
in electrical supplies. Unfortunately, placing them requires cutting out a 
larger section of the wall covering than will be covered by the switch 
plate, hence switch boxes are often placed on wobd lath in remodeling. The 
lath should be cut as shown in Fig. 29.14. Boxes for receptacles placed in the 
baseboard can be placed directly in the baseboard. A hole is cut to fit, then 
the ears on the box are attached to the baseboard with wooden screws. 
When receptacles are placed higher on the wall, it is usually possible to 
place them so that the box can be supported by a stud. Another scheme 
when several are to be installed in a line is to nail a piece of trim across 
the wall studs and to mount the boxes in it. 

Wiring and Lighting 507 

Basic operations in wiring. Bends and curves in metal-armored cable 
should not be made too sharp. The smallest bend that is considered safe is 
one with a radius five times the external diameter of the cable. 

To cut armored cable, the metal is first nicked with a hack saw as shown 
in Fig. 29.15. This nick should not be made so deep that the insulation on 
the wires is also cut. The cable is then grasped in both hands and bent back 
and forth until the strip breaks. A fiber bushing, called an "antishort" is 
slipped over the wires just inside the end of the armor before the cable end 
is inserted into the fixture box. 

Standard splices are shown in Fig. 29.16. To make a splice of any kind, 
the insulation is stripped off the wire with a knife or wire-stripping tool. 
The wire is then scraped with a dull knife until its surface is clean and 


Fig. 29.15. — Cutting of metal-armored cable. 

bright all around before the wires are twisted together. If the connection 
is to be soldered, the joint is then heated. This is best done with a small 
alcohol torch, which has a tube that is held in the mouth and through which 
air is blown to produce a hot, pointed flame. Flux-cored solder wire is then 
applied to the wires. If they are hot enough, the solder will melt and flow 
around and between them. If the splice is to be held with pressure (solder- 
less) connectors, the ends of the two wires are inserted into the connector, 
which is then screwed down on them until it can be turned no farther. 
Joints made with pressure connectors have no exposed bare wire if they 
have been made properly, but soldered splices must be taped. Rubber tape 
is first wrapped around the splice, each turn being lapped about half the 
width of the tape. Friction tape is then wrapped over the rubber tape. 
Splices should not be covered with friction tape alone, as the insulating value 
of this material is relatively low. 

In a house-wiring system, splices are always placed inside boxes. Splices 
should never be used to piece out short lengths of cable without putting the 
splice in a junction box. After the armor has been cut off to provide the 
necessary length of exposed wire for the splice and the wire ends have been 
scraped, the end of the cable is placed into a special fitting that grips the 
ends of the armor securely. In some boxes, these fittings are integral; but if 


New Houses from Old 

the box was entered through a knockout, special fittings known in the trade 
as B-X connectors are used. These connectors have a screw clamp that en- 
gages the end of the cable, and they in turn are held to the box by means 
of a lock nut. Once the cable has been fastened to the box, the splice is made 
inside the box and "laid away" (Fig. 29.17). 


Fig. 29.16. — A. Twist splice. B. Pigtail splice. C. Branch splice. D. Splice made 
with pressure (solderless) connector. 

Although new armored cable is seldom defective, it is nevertheless ad- 
visable to test it before placing it in a finished wall or ceiling. The test is 
simple. If there are two wires in the cable, connect both of them at one end 
of the cable to an ordinary doorbell, then touch the wires at the other end 
to the terminal posts of a standard dry-cell battery. The bell will ring if 
the cable is not defective. If there are three wires in the cable, make two 
tests, the first one of the white wire and one black wire, the second of the 
white wire and the other black wire. 

Electrical cable, whether it is two or three wire will be found to have a 
white wire and one or two wires of another color, usually black. The white 
wire is sometimes referred to as the "identified conductor" and in three- 
wire systems is often called also the "neutral conductor" or simply the 
"neutral." It is the wire that is grounded (Fig. 29.1) in both two- and three- 
wire systems. The ground connection is usually made to a cold-water pipe 
at some point where there will be little risk of the connection to the ground 
being interrupted by the temporary removal of a piece of equipment. For 
example, if there is a water meter in the cold-water line, the connection to 

Wiring and Lighting 


the pipe should be made on the supply side rather than the house side of 
the meter. The ground should not be made to a water pipe that terminates 
in a well because of the risk that lowering of the water in the well will 
render the ground ineffective. When no suitable water pipe is available, the 
ground is made through a special corrosion-resistant grounding rod that 
is driven into the soil. The connection between the ground wire and the 
pipe is made by means of a clamp, to which the wire is fastened with a 
screwed connection. A soldered connection should not be used at this point. 

^ — ^>S^ CABLE 


Fig. 29.17. — Taped splices laid away in a fixture box. 

Modernization of Existing Systems 

The modernization of a wiring system that is already installed in the 
house should be carried out in order to utilize as much of the existing 
wiring as possible. To plan the modernization, it is first necessary to de- 
termine how the circuits are laid out. The number of circuits can be deter- 
mined at the control center. If the house has two-wire knob and tube wiring 
— which is the most common type in old houses — there will be a pair of 
wires for each circuit. If the wiring is in cable, there will be one cable for 
each circuit. A feeder cable will also run into the box that contains the 
circuit fuses, but this should not be counted in determining the number 
of circuits. The particular outlets — lights or baseboard receptacles — attached 

510 New Houses from Old 

to each circuit can be found by disconnecting the circuits one at a time. 
This can be done by unscrewing a fuse through which the circuit passes in 
the control center. 

Once the existing circuits have been mapped, extensions and revisions 
of the wiring can be planned. Usually, it will be found that too many out- 
lets are already connected to the circuits. This condition can be alleviated 
by installing new appliance circuits to the kitchen and dining room or to 
any other room where the use of electricity will be relatively heavy. If 
additional receptacles are needed in some of the rooms, it is usually better 
to run new circuits for them. Individual equipment circuits should be run 
from a control center for any new appliances that require relatively large 
amounts of current. If the attic of the house is unfinished, the chances are 
that the wires or cables that supply the outlets on the second floor will be 
accessible in the attic. If they are, it is usually feasible to establish a branch 
control center on the second floor and to run a feeder of adequate capacity 
to it from the main control center. The original circuits can then be divided 
into two or more circuits supplied from the branch control center. The one 
thing that should not be done is to further overload the original circuits and 
to "increase their capacity" by using fuses of larger amperage. 

Each new circuit will require protective equipment in the form of fuses 
or a circuit breaker, hence the addition of circuits will require new fittings 
at the control center. When only a single circuit is added, as for a range 
or an oil burner, the purchase of equipment for it alone is usually enough; 
but if several circuits are added, it is often more economical to discard the 
old boxes and fuse blocks and to buy completely new equipment for the 
control center. In such a case, the installation of circuit breakers rather 
than fuses should be considered. 

If the house had a 32-volt farm lighting system and you wish to convert 
it to standard voltage, the main thing to look out for is adequate protection 
of the wires. The wires in a 32-volt system are usually large. If they are in 
cable or conduit or even installed by the knob and tube system, the circuits 
are usually more than adequate for 110- to 120-volt systems. On the other 
hand, if the wires are simply tacked up with staples — as was sometimes 
done when the farmer installed his own wiring — the house should be re- 
wired. Another point to look out for is grounding of the wiring system, as 
32-volt systems were seldom grounded. 

Ceiling lights that were not controlled with wall switches are often trouble- 
some problems in remodeling, particularly when the original lighting fix- 
tures were simple droplights. Replacing such lights with a modern lighting 
fixture is simple, but installing a wall switch usually involves cutting into 
the wall and usually the floor overhead. If you can forego the convenience 

Wiring and Lighting 


of a wall switch, almost any modern lighting fixture can be rigged with a 
sturdy pull switch that is installed in the base of the fixture. A switch of this 
type is inconvenient when it must be found in the dark, but it has no other 

Tarnished switch plates can readily be replaced with new ones that have 
a permanent finish. The newer toggle switches can usually be substituted 
for push-button switches without changing the box that holds the switch. 
Double baseboard outlets are often installed in place of single ones where 
more outlets are needed, but this should be done only if it is certain that 
the circuit has a capacity for additional outlets. 



R-i BELL -7 

±1 i/ 





Fig. 29.18. — Wiring diagram for doorbell and buzzer. 

Doorbell Wiring 

The wiring scheme for a doorbell system that employs a bell for one 
exterior door and a buzzer for the other one is diagramed in Fig. 29.18. 
Chimes can be substituted for the bell or buzzer without any change in 
the wiring. Doorbells used to be operated by dry batteries, and you may 
encounter such a system in the house you are remodeling. A small trans- 
former is more commonly used to supply electricity for doorbells. The 
transformer steps down the regular voltage of the house electricity supply 
to a much lower voltage. 

Some electrical codes require that the bell transformer be fused. Fused 
transformers are usually sold as a unit that contains the fuse blocks and 
transformer in a small metal box. Fused transformers are undoubtedly 
safer, but unfused transformers are commonly installed where they are 
permitted by the code. These are available in two types — one that can be 
mounted on the cover of a standard junction box and one that can be 
screwed to a joist or other wood. The first type has the advantage that the 
wires attached to the house-wiring system are not exposed. An armored cable 
or some other kind of protected wiring must be used to connect the other 
type to the house-wiring system. The high-voltage or primary side of a 
bell transformer can be easily identified by the pair of thick wires, one of 


New Houses from Old 

which has black insulation, the other white. The secondary side of the trans- 
former is attached to the doorbell system. It is usually equipped with a pair 
of brass terminals to which the bell wires are fastened. 

Since the bell side of the system is supplied with low-voltage current, 
ordinary cotton-insulated bell wire can be used, and the wires can be stapled 
directly to wood. Cotton-insulated wire should not, however, be exposed 






Vfor wires 





Fig. 29.19. — Methods of installing bell wires in finished doorframes. A and B are 
described in the text. C shows how wires installed as in B may be brought to the 
side of the interior casing without removing it. The small hole h is filled after the 
wires are in place. 

to constant dampness. In the better installations, bell wiring is usually 
further protected by wrapping the wires with tape after they have been cut 
to length; but taped wire is difficult to pull through floors or walls in a 
finished house. Rubber- or plastic-insulated wire of the quality commonly 
used for lamp cords is considerably more expensive than bell wire, but 
using it often simplifies the installation of doorbells in remodeling. 

Installing a doorbell push button in remodeling is a more difficult opera- 
tion than it appears to be. The first step is to bore a hole in the outer door 
casing for the button. The strip of casing is then removed carefully in order 
not to damage it. The next step is to bore a hole inward at the base of the 
casing. The sill construction should first be studied from inside the base- 
ment so that the hole can be placed where it will open into the basement. 

Wiring and Lighting 513 

Two shallow grooves about 2 in. apart are then made in the back of the 
casing strip. The wires are placed in the grooves. Ends 2 or 3 in. long are 
pushed through the hole where the button is to be placed. The wires are 
next fastened to the casing strip with staples driven flush into the wood. The 
other ends of the wires are then pushed through the hole into the basement, 
and the casing strip is replaced. Inasmuch as there is some risk of damag- 
ing the casing, some homeowners prefer to bore the hole for the button 
straight through the doorframe and to run the wires to the basement inside 
the house (Fig. 19.19). When this method is used, a strip of the inside 
casing can be removed and the wires concealed behind it in the same way; 
or where appearance is not too important, as at the back door, the groove 
for the wires can be made in the face of the casing, in which case removal 
of the casing is not necessary. 

Telephone Wiring 

There is much to be said for installing conduits for telephone wires when 
a house is remodeled. Doing so avoids boring holes and otherwise dis- 
figuring the house when the telephone is installed. The requirements and 
methods will not be covered in this book since literature and advice on the 
matter are available on request from telephone companies. 

Lighting and Lighting Fixtures 

There are two considerations in selecting lighting fixtures— one, to obtain 
adequate light and the other, to obtain fixtures that are attractive and 
harmonious with the style and decoration of the house. The lighting of a 
room has two components — the general or background lighting and the 
lighting of tables, desks, and printed matter that is being read. Home light- 
ing can be measured from the standpoint of its adequacy only by the use 
of a foot-candle meter, designed for measuring light of low intensity. This 
is not an instrument that the average homeowner is likely to purchase, but 
some contractors who specialize in the installation of lighting and a number 
of utility companies have such instruments and will make lighting measure- 
ments in the home. 

The following recommendations for adequate light for various tasks and 
conditions are based on data published in the Illuminating Engineering 
Society's Recommended Practice of Home Lighting: for prolonged reading 
of small type, studying at a table, prolonged sewing on goods of average 
colors, working in the kitchen or at a workbench, and doing laundry or 


New Houses from Old 

iConrtcsy Illuminating Engineering Society.') 

Fig. 29.20. — Recommended fixture types for entrances, halls, and closets. A. Lantern 
bracket, 40 watts. B. Ceiling lantern, 40 watts. C. Recessed house number, 3 watts. 
D. Attached house number, special voltage lamp supplied from doorbell trans- 
former. E. General diffuse lantern, 60 watts. F. Semi-indirect ceiling fixture, 80 
watts. G. Semidirect ceiling fixture, 80 watts. H. Projector lamp fixture, 100 watts. 
Fixtures shown are for filament (incandescent) lamps. Wattages are minimum. 

Wiring and Lighting 


n n 




(.Courtesy Illuminating Engineering Society.) 

Fig. 29.21. — Recommended fixture types for the living room. A. Semi-indirect close 
ceiling fixture, 150 watts. B. Semi-indirect close ceiling fixture, 80 watts. C. Semi- 
indirect suspended fixture, 150 watts. D. Close or suspended semi-indirect fixture, 
40 watts per bowl. E. Semi-indirect or totally indirect wall urn, 60 watts. F. Wall 
bracket, 15 watts. G. Recessed directional side-wall lighting. H. Lighted cornice. /. 
Dropped valances for side-wall lighting. Wattage recommendations for G, H, and / 
are 20 to 40 watts per running foot (incandescent) ; 10 watts per running foot 
(fluorescent). A, C, D, E, and F for incandescent lamps. B for fluorescent lamps 
only. G, H, and / for either incandescent or fluorescent. 


New Houses from Old 

(.Courtesy Illuminating Engineering Society.) 

Fig. 29.22. — Recommended fixture types for the dining room. A. Semi-indirect fix- 
ture, 150 watts. B. Semi-indirect fixture with inner diffusing bowl; 150 watts for 
a dinette, 300 watts for dining room. C. Semi-indirect fixture, 40 watts per bowl. 
D. Shaded candle fixture, 25 watts per candle. E, Semi-indirect fixture, fluorescent 
lamp; 60 watts for a dinette, 80 watts for dining room. F. Semi-indirect close 
ceiling fixture, 150 watts. G. Special-purpose spotlighting fixture. H. Over cabinet 
lighting. /. Cove lighting. Wattage recommendations for H and / are 20 to 40 
watts per running foot (incandescent); 10 watts per running foot (fluorescent). 
Wattage recommendations are minimum. 

Wiring and Lighting 


{Courtesy Illuminating Engineering Society.) 

Fig. 29.23. — Recommended fixture types for the kitchen, laundry, and garage. A. 
General diffuse enclosing globe, 150 watts. B. Totally indirect ( silvered-bowl bulb), 
200 watts. C. Semidirect, 80 watts. D. Direct (silvered-bowl bulb), 150 watts. E. 
Direct, 40 watts. F. Recessed direct; 100 watts if equipped with incandescent lamp. 
60 watts if equipped with fluorescent lamp. G. Wall bracket, 10 watts per rtinning 
foot. H. Wall bracket, 60 watts. C, E, and G are for fluorescent lamps only. Wattage 
recommendations are minimum. 


New Houses from Old 

H <3. . . . . 

{Courtesy Illuminating Engineering Society.) 

Fig. 29.24. — Recommended fixture types for the bedroom. A. Semi-indirect, 120 
watts. B. Semi-indirect, 40 watts per bowl. C. Indirect (silvered-bowl bulb), 150 
watts. D. Semi-indirect, 40 watts. E. Bracket, 20 to 40 watts, depending on mirror 
length. F. Recessed direct lighting; 100 watts if equipped with incandescent lamp, 
40 watts if equipped with fluorescent lamp. G. Recessed box, 10 watts per running 
foot. H. Bracket for door mirrors, 100 watts. D, E, and G are for fluorescent lamps 
only. Wattage recommendations are minimum. 

Wiring and Lighting 


{.Courtesy Illuminating Engineering Society.) 

Fig. 29.25. — Recommended fixture types for the bathroom. A. General diffuse en- 
closing globe, 100 watts. B. Semidirect close-ceiling fixture, 100 watts. C. Semi- 
direct close-ceiling fixture, 30 watts. D. Vaporproof shower light, 60 watts. E. 
Semi-indirect bracket, 60 watts. F. Semi-indirect bracket with lens light, 100 watts. 
G. Wall bracket, 15 watts. C and G are for fluorescent lamps only. Wattage recom- 
mendations are minimum. 

520 New Houses from Old 

ironing, 40 foot-candles; for casual reading of large type, short periods of 
sewing, and writing, 20 foot-candles. Forty foot-candles are also recom- 
mended at the bathroom mirror and 20 at the dressing-table mirror. An 
intensity of 5 foot-candles is needed for background lighting for all rooms 
in the house but the kitchen, where 10 foot-candles are considered necessary. 
Lighting fixtures are not standardized and their choice is as personal as 
the choosing of furniture. The fixtures shown in Figs. 29.20 to 29.25 are 
intended only to show good types for various places in the house. 


Useful Books and Pamphlets 


Dunham, C. W., and M. D. Thalberg: Planning Your Home for Better Living, 
Whittlesey House (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.), 1945. 

Eberlein, H. D.: Remodeling and Adapting the Small House, J. B. Lippincott 
Company, 1933. 

Field, W. B.: House Planning, McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 1940. 

Home Owners^ Catalogs, 1945 (see p. 147). 

Johnstone, B. K., and Others: Building or Buying a House, Whittlesey House 
(McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.), 1945. 

Moral, H. R.: Buying Country Property, The Macmillan Company, 1941. 

President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership, Washington, 
D. C, 1931, House Design, Construction, and Equipment, 1932. 

President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership, Washington, 
D. C, 1931, Housing and the Community — Home Repair and Remodeling, 1932. 

Rawson, M. N. : Sing, Old House; Hallmarks of True Restoration, E. P. Button & 
Company, Inc., 1934. 

Rogers, T. S. : Plan Your House to Suit Yourself, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1938. 

Sleeper, Catherine, and H. R. Sleeper: The House for You to Build, Buy or 
Rent, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1948. 

United States Gypsum Company, House of Ideas, 1942.* 

United States Gypsum Company, How to Modernize Your Home, 1942.* 

United States National Housing Agency, Federal Housing Administration, Tech- 
nical Bulletin No. 4, Principles of Planning Small Houses, rev. 1946, Govern- 
ment Printing Office.* 

University of Illinois, Small Homes Council, Circular Series* 

Williams, H. L., and 0. K. Williams: Old American Houses and How to Restore 
Them (1700-1850), Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1946. 

Wills, R. B.: Houses for Good Living, Architectural Book Publishing Company, 
Inc., 1940. 

* See footnote on p. 530. 


522 New Houses from Old 


BuRBANK, N. L. : Carpentry and Joinery Work, 4th ed., Simmons-Boardman Pub- 
lishing Corporation, 1942.f 

BuRBANK, N. L. : House Construction Details, 2nd ed., Simmons-Boardman Pub- 
lishing Corporation, 1942. f 

Dalzell, J. R., and G. Townsend: How to Remodel a House, American Tech- 
nical Society, 1942.t 

DiETZ, A. G. H.: Divelling House Construction, D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 

DuRBAHN, W. E.: Practical Construction, American Technical Society, 1948.t 

Home Mechanics Handbook, The, D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1945. f 

Home Owners' Loan Corporation, Master Specifications for Reconditioning, 3rd 
ed.. Government Printing Office, 1939.t 

Lair, E. A.: Carpentry for the Building Trades, McGraw-Hill Book Company, 
Inc., 1947. 

Ramsey, C. G., and H. R. Sleeper: Architectural Graphic Standards, 3rd ed., 
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1940. 

Sweet's Architectural Catalogs, published annually (see p. 147). 

Townsend, G. : Carpentry, 2nd ed., American Technical Society, 1936.f 

United States Federal Housing Administration, Minimum Construction Require- 
ments.* f (The requirements for different parts of the country vary. Apply to 
the local Federal Housing Administration office for those applicable to your 

United States National Bureau of Standards, List of Published Material Relating 
to Home Building and Maintenance (Letter Circular 856), 1947.* 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures 
Report BMS 88, Recommended Building Code Requirements for New Divelling 
Construction, Government Printing Office, 1942.* f 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Building and Housing Publication 
No. 18, Recommended Minimum Requirements for Small Divelling Construc- 
tion, Government Printing Office, 1932.f 

United States National Housing Agency, Federal Housing Administration, Tech- 
nical Bulletin No. 6, Mechanical Equipment for the Home, rev. 1940, Govern- 
ment Printing Office.* 

Whitman, R. B. : First Aid for the Ailing House, 4th ed., Whittlesey House 
(McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.), 1946. 
t See footnote on p. 530. 

Useful Books and Pamphlets 523 


Graham, F. D. : Audels Masons and Builders Guide, Theodore Audel & Com- 
pany, 1945.t 

McGarvey, G. a.: Bricklaying (United States Office of Education, Vocational 
Division, Bulletin No. 208), Government Printing Office, 1940.t 

Miller, T. A. H.: Use of Concrete on the Farm (United States Department of 
Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin 1772 ) , Government Printing Office, 1937. 

Mulligan, J. A.: Handbook of Brick Masonry Construction, McGraw-Hill Book 
Company, Inc., 1942.f 

National Concrete Masonry Association, Facts about Concrete Masonry with Con- 
struction Details, 1946.* f 

National Sand and Gravel Association, Tables of Quantities of Materials for Con- 
crete (Bulletin No. 4), 1928.* 

Portland Cement Association, Concrete Facts for Concrete Contractors, 1942.* 

Stoddard, R. P.: Brick Structures: How to Build Them, 11th ed., McGraw^-Hill 
Book Company, Inc., 1946.t 


Copper and Brass Research Association, Protection against Termites ivith Copper 
Shields, 1941.* 

Miller, T. A. H., and E. G. Molander: Foundations for Farm. Buildings (United 
States Department of Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin 1869 ) , Government Print- 
ing Office, 1941.* 

Portland Cement Association, Foundation Walls and Basements of Concrete, 

United States Department of Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin 1911, Preventing 
Damage to Buildings by Subterranean Termites and Their Control, Govern- 
ment Printing Office, 1946.* 

United States Federal Housing Administration, Protection against Termites (Tech- 
nical Circular No. 2), 1939.* 

Warren: G. M.: Making Cellars Dry (United States Department of Agriculture, 
Farmers' Bulletin 1572), Government Printing Office, 1929.* 


National Board of Fire Underwriters, A Standard Ordinance for Chimney Con- 
struction, 3rd ed., rev., 1927.* f 

524 New Houses from Old 

Senner, a. H., and T. A. H. Miller: Fireplaces and Chimneys (United States 
Department of Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin 1889), Government Printing 
Office, 1941.* 


HoLSENDORF, B. E. : The Rat and Rat proof Construction of Buildings (United 
States Public Health Service, Supplement No. 131), Government Printing Of- 
fice, 1937.* 

Johnson, R. P. A., and E. M. Davis: Use and Abuse of Wood in House Con- 
struction (United States Department of Agriculture, Miscellaneous Publica- 
tion No. 358), Government Printing Office, 1939.* 

National Lumber Manufacturers Association, House Framing Details, 1929.* 

National Lumber Manufacturers Association, Maximum Spans for Joists and 
Rafters, 1938.* f 

National Lumber Manufacturers Association, Plank-and-beam Floor and Roof 
System for Residential Construction, 1940.* f 

Perth, L. : The Steel Square, Stanley Tools, 1943.* 

SiEGELE, H. H.: Roof Framing, Frederick J. Drake & Company, 1947. f 

Tov^^NSEND, G. : The Steel Square, American Technical Society, 1939. f 

United States Federal Board for Vocational Education, Bulletin No. 145, Light 
Frame House Construction, rev. 1931, Government Printing Office. f 

United States Federal Housing Administration, Tables of Maximum Alloivable 
Spans for Wood Floor Joists, Ceiling Joists, Rafters in Residential Construc- 
tion, 1946.* t 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Building and Housing No. 14, 
Recommended Minimum Requirements for Fire Resistance in Buildings, Gov- 
ernment Printing Office, 1931.* f 

American Zinc Institute, How to Make Galvanized Roofing Last Longer, 1945.* 

Copper and Brass Research Association, Copper Valleys and Flashings for Resi- 
dences, 1941.* 

GiLMORE, W. J., and Others: Roofs and Exterior Walls of Red Cedar Shingles 
(Oregon State College, Extension Bulletin 540), Oregon State College, 1940.* 

Grondal, B. L., and W. W. Woodbridge: Certigrade Handbook of Red Cedar 
Shingles, 5th ed., rev.. Red Cedar Shingle Bureau, 1942.* 

Snoke, H. R.: Asphalt-prepared Roll Roofings and Shingles (United States Na- 
tional Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures Report BMS 
70), Government Printing Office, 1941.* f 

Useful Books and Pamphlets 525 

Snoke, H. R., and L. J. Waldron: Survey of Roofing Materials in the North- 
eastern States (United States National Bureau of Standards, Building Ma- 
terials and Structures Report BMS 29), Government Printing Office, 1939.* 
(Similar publications of the Bureau discuss materials used in the Southeastern 
states and in the North Central states.) 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures 
Report BMS 57, Roofing in the United States, Government Printing Office, 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Commercial Standard 31, Wood 
Shingles, 4th ed., Government Printing Office, 1938.* f 

Douglas Fir Plywood Association, Dri-bilt with Plywood, 1945.* 

GiLMORE, W. J., and Others: Roofs and Exterior Walls of Red Cedar Shingles 
(Oregon State College, Extension Bulletin 540), Oregon State College, 1940.* 

Grondal, B. L., and W. W. Woodbridge: Certigrade Handbook of Red Cedar 
Shingles, 5th ed., rev.. Red Cedar Shingle Bureau, 1942.* 

Insulation Board Institute, Application Instructions for Structural Insulating 
Board, 1941.* 

Metal Lath Manufacturers Association, Metal Lath for Homesf' 

National Concrete Masonry Association, Facts about Concrete Masonry ivith 
Construction Details, 1946.* f 

National Lumber Manufacturers Association, Wood Walls, 1937.* 

Portland Cement Association, Plasterer's Manual for Applying Portland Cement 
Stucco and Plaster, 1941.* f 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Dampness in Masonry Walls Above- 
grade (Letter Circular 721), 1943.* 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Finishes and Maintenance of Port- 
land Cement Stucco Construction (Technical Information on Building Ma- 
terials TIBM 21), 1936.* 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Recommendations for Portland 
Cement Stucco Construction (Technical Information on Building Materials 
TIBM 20), 1936.* 


National Door Manufacturers Association, Neiv Modular Standard Ponder osa 
Pine Stock Windows and Sash, 1947.* 

National Door Manufacturers Association, Stock Ponderosa Pine and Hardwood 
Veneered Doors, 1947.* 

526 New Houses from Old 


Douglas Fir Plywood Association, various publications on the use of plywood 
on interior walls. 

Gypsum Association, The ABC's of Plastering.* 

Gypsum Association, various publications on gypsum plaster and gypsum board. 

Insulation Board Institute, Application Instructions for Structural Insulating 
Board, 1941.* 

Libbey-Owens-Ford Glass Company, pamphlets on its double window glass 
"Thermopane" and other literature on glass in houses. 

National Lumber Manufacturers Association, Modern Home Interiors.* 

Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, various pamphlets on the use of glass in houses. 

Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association, An Inside Story of Tidewater Red 
Cypress, 1936.* 

Southern Hardwood Producers, Southern Hardivood Interiors.* 

United States National Bureau of Standards, several publications on plaster. 

United States Plywood Corporation, Weldwood Plywood for Interiors: Installa- 
tion Booklet, 1946.* 

Western Pine Association, Paneling Old or Neiv Interiors with Real Pine.* 


Dill, R. S., and Others: Measurement of Heat Losses from Slab Floors (United 
States National Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures Report 
BMS 103), Government Printing Office, 1945.* f 

Helphenstine, R. K.: Selection, Installation, Finish, and Maintenance of Wood 
Floors for Dwellings (United States Department of Agriculture, Circular No. 
489), Government Printing Office, 1938.* 

Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, Grading Rules and Standard Speci- 
fications.* f 

Miracle Adhesive Corporation, Construction by Adhesion, 1947.* (Deals with tile 
walls and floors.) 

National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association, Hoiv to Lay, Finish, and 
Care for NOFMA Oak Floors, 1943.* 

National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association, Specification Manual for 
NOFMA Certified Oak Floors, 1943.* 

Southern Pine Association, Southern Pine Floors, 1942.* 

Tile Manufacturers Association, Inc., Facts about Tile, 1941.* 

Useful Books and Pamphlets 527 

United States National Bureau of Standards, several publications on characteris- 
tics of flooring materials and maintenance of floors. 


EwiNG, C. H.: Practical Instruction for Paper Hanging, Frederick J. Drake and 
Company, 1946.t 

Gardner, H. A.: Suggestions on Overcoming Construction Defects and Other 
Factors Which Cause Paint Failures on Wood Surfaces, National Paint, Var- 
nish, and Lacquer Association, 1939.* 

HiCKSON, E. F., and P. T. Howard: Painting Interior Walls and Trim (Letter 
Circular 837), United States National Bureau of Standards, 1946.* 

Lead Industries Association, Property Protection with White Lead Paint * 

National Lime Association, Whitewash and Cold Water Paints (Bulletin No. 
304-E), 1943.* 

Newell, A. C. : Coloring, Finishing, and Painting Jfood, Manual Arts Press, 

Painting and Decorating Methods, 2nd ed., Theodore Audel & Company, 1938.+ 

United States Federal Housing Administration, Two-coat Paint Systems for Ex- 
terior Use (Technical Circular No. 6), 1942.* 

United States Forest Products Laboratory, several publications on painting of 

United States National Bureau of Standards, many publications on household 
painting problems. 

Vanderwalker, F. N.: Wood Finishing, Plain and Decorative, rev. ed., Frederick 
J. Drake & Company, 1944.+ 

Walker, P. H., and E. F. Hickson : Paint Manual ivith Particular Reference to 
Federal Specifications (United States National Bureau of Standards, Building 
Materials and Structures Report BMS 105), Government Printing Office, 1945. f 

West Coast Lumbermen's Association, Painting and Finishing West Coast Woods, 


American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, Heating, Ventilating, 
and Air Conditioning Guide, published annually.f 

Copper and Brass Research Association, Radiant Heating."^ 

Hoffman, J. D., Ed.: Gravity Warm-air Heating. Digest of Research, Engineer- 
ing Experiment Station, University of Illinois, National Warm Air Heating 
and Air Conditioning Association, 1935. f 

528 New Houses from Old 

Illinois University, Engineering Experiment Station, Urbana, 111., various publi- 
cations on heating and cooling dwelling houses. 

Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers, I-B-R Installation Guide, Num- 
ber 1 : One Pipe Forced Circulation Hot Water Heating Systems for Buildings 
Having a Heat Loss Not Exceeding 60,000 B.T.U. per Hour, 1945." f 

Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers, I-B-R Installation Guide, Num- 
ber 2: One Pipe Steam Heating Systems for Buildings Having a Heat Loss 
Not Exceeding 92,640 B.T.U. per Hour (Equal to 386 Sq. Ft. of Steam Radi- 
ation) , 1946.* + 

National Warm Air Heating and Air Conditioning Association, Code and Manual 
for the Design and Installation of IF arm-air If inter Air-conditioning Systems, 
1945.* + 

National Warm Air Heating and Air Conditioning Association, Code and Manual 
for Gravity Warm-air Heating Systems, 2nd ed., 1945. f 

National Warm Air Heating and Air Conditioning Association, Hoiv to Figure 
Heat Losses.* f 

Phillips, T. D.: A Survey of Humidities in Residences (United States National 
Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures Report BMS 56), 
Government Printing Office, 1940.* f 

Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, Inc., A Simple Home Course in Burner Care, 1944.* 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Home Heating Problems: List of 
Publications and Articles (Letter Circular 855}.* 


Chrisler, v. L. : Sound Insulation of Wall and Floor Constructions (United 
States National Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures Re- 
port BMS 17 ) , Government Printing Office, 1939.* + 

Close, P. D.: Building Insulation, 3rd ed., American Technical Society, 1946.+ 

Rowley, F. B., and Others: Conservation of Fuel (University of Minnesota, En- 
gineering Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 20 ) , University of Minnesota, 

Rowley, F. B., and R. C. Jordan: Economics of Insulation (University of Min- 
nesota, Engineering Experiment Station, Bulletin No. 23), University of Min- 
nesota, 1945.* 

Rowley, F. B., and Others: Methods of Moisture Control and Their Application 
to Building Construction (University of Minnesota, Engineering Experiment 
Station, Bulletin No. 17), University of Minnesota, 1940.* + 

Rowley, F. B., and C. E. Lund: Vapor Transmission Analysis of Structural In- 

Useful Books and Pamphlets 529 

sulating Board (University of Minnesota, Engineering Experiment Station, 
Bulletin No. 22), University of Minnesota, 1944.* f 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Aluminum Foil Insulation (Letter 
Circular 535), 1938.* 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Thermal Insulation of Dwelling 
Houses (Letter Circular 774), 1945.* 

Weber, C. G., and R. C. Reichel: Accumulation of Moisture in Walls of Frame 
Construction during Winter Exposure (United States National Bureau of 
Standards, Building Materials and Structures Report BMS 93 ) , Government 
Printing Office.* f 

WooLLEY, H. W. : Moisture Condensation in Building Walls (United States Na- 
tional Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures Report BMS 
63), Government Printing Office, 1940.* f 


Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers, I-B-R Installation Guide, Num- 
ber 3: Indirect Water Heaters; Selection and Installation of Heaters Sub- 
merged in Water for Use in Small Homes, 1946.* f 

Manly, H. P.: Plumbing Installation and Repair, Frederick J. Drake & Com- 
pany, 1945.t 

Matthias, A. J.: How to Design and Install Plumbing, American Technical So- 
ciety, 1940.t 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Building Materials and Structures 
Report BMS 66, Plumbing Manual, Government Printing Office, 1940.* f 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Recommended Minimum Require- 
ments for Plumbing, Government Printing Office, 1932.t 

Warren, G. M. : Farm Plumbing (United States Department of Agriculture, 
Farmers' Bulletin 1426), Government Printing Office, 1944.* 

American Water Well Drillers' Association, standard well specifications. 

Bowman, L: Well-drilling Methods (United States Geological Survey, Water 
Supply Paper 257), Government Printing Office, 1911.* f 

Garver, H. L. : Safe Water for the Farm (United States Department of Agri- 
culture, Farmers' Bulletin 1978), Government Printing Office, 1946.* 

RocKEY, J. W., and J. W. Simons: Sewage and Garbage Disposal on the Farm 
(United States Department of Agriculture, Farmers' Bulletin 1950), Govern- 
ment Printing Office, 1944.* 

530 New Houses from Old 

United States Federal Housing Administration, Requirements for Individual 
Water-supply and Seivage-disposal Systems.'^ f (The requirements for differ- 
ent parts of the country vary. Apply to the local Federal Housing Administra- 
tion office for the requirements applicable to your community.) 

United States Public Health Service, Supplement No. 58 to the Public Health 
Reports, Seivage Disposal for Suburban and Country Homes, Government 
Printing Office, 1926.* 

United States Public Health Service, Supplement No. 185 to the Public Health 
Reports, Rural Water-supply Sanitation, Government Printing Office, 1945.* ] 

Winston, J. B.: ^4 Surface Water Treatment System for the Rural Home (Bul- 
letin No. 89), Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, 1945.* 

Wright, F. B. : Rural Water Supply and Sanitation, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 


Bredahl, a. C. : Westinghouse Home JFiring Handbook, Westinghouse Electric 
Corporation, 1947.t 

Fahsbender, M. : Residential Lighting, D. Van Nostrand Company, Inc., 1947. 

Illuminating Engineering Society, Recommended Practice of Home Lighting, 

Industry Committee on Interior Wiring Design, Handbook of Residential Wiring 
Design, 1946.* 

National Board of Fire Underwriters, National Electrical Code; Standard of the 
National Board of Fire Underwriters for Electric Wiring and Apparatus as 
Recommended by the National Fire Protection Association, 1947.f 

RiCHTER, H. P.: Practical Electric Wiring, McGravsr-Hill Book Company, Inc., 


United States Rural Electrification Administration, various nontechnical publica- 
tions on electric wiring. 

United States Tennessee Valley Authority, a number of nontechnical publications 
on electric wiring and appliances. 

* Denotes a pamplilet or leaflet. 

t Indicates that the work is technical — that is, it is written chiefly in the language of 
the trade. 


Addresses of Organizations and 

American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, 

51 Madison Ave., New York 10, N. Y. 

American Technical Society, Drexel Ave. at 58th St., Chicago 37, 111. 

American Water Well Drillers' Association, 

1912 South Main St., South Bend, Ind. 

American Zinc Institute, 60 East 42nd St., New York 17, N. Y. 

Architectural Book Publishing Company, Inc., 

112 West 46th St., New York 19, N. Y. 

Audel, Theodore, & Company, 49 West 23rd St., New York 10, N. Y. 

Copper and Brass Research Association, 

420 Lexington Ave., New York 17, N. Y. 

Dodge, F. W., Corporation, 119 West 40th St., New York 18, N. Y. 

Doubleday & Company, Inc., Garden City, N. Y. 

Douglas Fir Plywood Association, Tacoma 2, Wash. 

Drake, Frederick J., & Company, 600 West Van Buren St., Chicago 7, 111. 

Dutton, E. p., & Company, Inc., 300 4th Ave., New York 10, N. Y. 

Government Printing Office. 

Publications so marked in the above list are sold by the Superintendent 
of Documents, Washington, D. C. Government publications not marked 
in this way are usually obtainable from the agency that sponsored them. 

Gypsum Association, 330 South Wells St., Chicago 6, 111. 

Illuminating Engineering Society, 51 Madison Ave., New York 10, N. Y. 

Industry Committee on Interior Wiring Design, 

Room 2650, 420 Lexington Ave., New York 17, N. Y. 

Institute of Boiler and Radiator Manufacturers, 

60 East 42nd St., New York 17, N. Y. 

Insulation Board Institute, 111 West Washington St., Chicago, 111. 

Lead Industries Association, 420 Lexington Ave., New York 17, N. Y. 


532 New Houses from Old 

LiBBEY-OwENS-FoRD Glass Company, Toledo 3, 0. 

LiPPiNCOTT, J. B., Company, East Washington Square, Philadelphia 5, Pa. 

McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc., 330 West 42nd St., New York 18, N. Y. 
Macmillan Company, 60 5th Ave., New York 11, N. Y. 

Manual Arts Press, 273 North Monroe St., Peoria 3, 111. 

Maple Flooring Manufacturers Association, 

332 South Michigan Ave., Chicago 4, 111. 

Metal Lath Manufacturers Association, 208 South La Salle St., Chicago, 111. 

Miracle Adhesives Corporation, 801 2nd Ave., New York, N. Y. 

National Board of Fire Underwriters, 85 John St., New York 7, N, Y. 

National Concrete Masonry Association, 

33 West Grand Ave., Chicago 10, 111. 

National Door Manufacturers Association, 

332 South Michigan Ave., Chicago 4, 111. 

National Lime Association, 927 15th St., N.W., Washington 5, D. C. 

National Lumber Manufacturers Association, 

1319 18th St., N.W., Washington, D. C. 

National Oak Flooring Manufacturers Association, 

Dermon Building, Nashville, Tenn. 

National Paint, Varnish, and Lacquer Association, 

1500 Rhode Island Ave., N.W., Washington, D. C. 

National Sand and Gravel Association, 

Munsey Building, Washington 4, D. C. 

National Warm Air Heating and Air Conditioning Association, 

145 Public Square, Cleveland 14, O. 

Oregon State College, Corvallis, Ore. 

Pittsburgh Plate Glass Company, Pittsburgh 22, Pa. 

Portland Cement Association, 33 West Grand Ave., Chicago 10, 111. 

President's Conference on Home Building and Home Ownership 

Publications out of print but are obtainable in many libraries. 

Red Cedar Shingle Bureau, 5508 White Bldg., Seattle, Wash. 

Scribner's, Charles, Sons, 597 5th Ave., New York, N. Y. 


30 Church St., New York 7, N. Y. 
Socony-Vacuum Oil Company, Inc., 26 Broadway, New York, N. Y. 

Addresses of Organizations and Publishers 533 

Southern Cypress Manufacturers Association, 

721-724 Barnett National Bank Bldg., Jacksonville, Fla. 

Southern Hardwood Producers, 805 Sterick Bldg., Memphis, Tenn. 

Southern Pine Association, Canal Bldg., New Orleans, La. 

Stanley Tools, New Britain, Conn. 

Texas Agricultural and Mechanical College, College Station, Tex. 

Tile Manufacturers Association, 50 East 42nd St., New York 17, N. Y. 

United States Federal Housing Administration, Washington 25, D. C. 

United States Forest Products Laboratory, Madison 5, Wis. 

United States Gypsum Company, 300 West Adams St., Chicago, 111. 

United States National Bureau of Standards, Washington 25, D. C. 

United States Plywood Corporation, 55 West 44th St., New York 18, N. Y. 

United States Rural Electrification Administration, Washington 25, D. C. 

United States Tennessee Valley Authority, 

New Sprankle Bldg., Knoxville, Tenn. 

University of Illinois, Small Homes Council, Urbana, 111. 

University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minn. 

Van Nostrand, D., Company, Inc., 250 4th Ave., New York, N. Y. 

West Coast Lumbermen's Association, 364 Stuart Bldg., Seattle, Wash. 

Western Pine Association, Yeon Bldg., Portland 4, Ore. 

Westinghouse Electric Corporation, Box 1017, Pittsburgh 30, Pa. 

Whittlesey House (McGraw-Hill Book Company, Inc.), 

330 West 42nd St., New York 18, N. Y. 

Wiley, John, & Sons, Inc., 440 4th Ave., New York, N. Y. 



Coefficients of Heat Transmission (U) of Standard Types of House Walls, Roofs, 
Ceilings, Floors, and Partitions 

The tables in this section are reprinted from the Guide, 1946 edition, of the 
American Society of Heating and Ventilating Engineers, by permission of the 



New Houses from Old 

Table 1 
Coefficients of Transmission ( U) of Frame Walls 

Coefficients are expressed in Btu per (hour) (square foot) (Fahrenheit degree difference in temperature 
between the air on the two sides), and are based on an outside wind velocity of 15 mph. 

No Insulation between Studs" (see Table 2) 

Type of 






Exterior finish 

Interior finish 

(H in. 


(Me in. 

(^^'32 in. 






(25152 in. 






Wood siding (clap- 

Metal lath and plaster ^ 







Gypsum board (H in.) decorated 






Wood lath and plaster 







Gypsum lath i'-^i in.) plastered*^ 






STUDS -.^^^^^^-^ 

Plywood CH in.) plain or decorated 








Insulating board (H in.) plain or 

*~**^:sS? )I 










Insulating board lath (H in.) 

/tplaster ill 


plastered "^ 






Insulating board lath (1 in.) plas- 



tered "^ 







Wood "^ shingles 

Metal lath and plaster '' 






Gypsum board (H in.) decorated 







Wood lath and plaster 







■==;f , Gypsum lath (H in.) plastered "^ 







Plywood (H in.) plain or decorated 






PLASTER ^1^ / 

/ V 

Insulating board (J-2 in.) plain or 

-., - J> V 








/^ -y 

Insulating board lath (H in.) plas- 

(f^™ y 

tered " 






.jjLbase -^ 


Insulating board lath (1 in.) plas- 



tered " 








Metal lath and plaster '' 






Gypsum board (H in.) decorated 






^Tnnc STUCCO-7 

Wood lath and plaster 






STUDS x,<;^^^= 


Gypsum lath (H in.) plastered ' 






Plywood (H in.) plain or decorated 







Insulating board V/2 in.) plain or 










Insulating board lath {],2 in.) plas- 

(/ BASF / 


tered '^ 






^--~J--'~^^___^^ IT 


Insulating board lath (1 in.) plas- 


tered " 






Brick veneer * 

Metal lath and plaster '' 







Gypsum board IVs in.) decorated 






^Ttin<i ^^ecC!!!! ' — ^~-^ 

Wood lath and plaster 








Gypsum lath (H in.) plastered ■■ 







Plywood Cj-i in.) plain or decorated 







Insulating board (H in.) plain or 






// 1 

Insulating board lath (H in.) plas- 


tered " 






\\ BASE '^ 


Insulating board lath (1 in.) plas- 

~~-— U' 

tered " 







" Coefficients not weighted; eiTect of studding neglected. 

'' Plaster assumed ?4 in. thick. 

" Plaster assumed }i in. thick. , , . , ,„,.,. ^ j 

<* Furring strips (1 in. nominal thickness) between wood shingles and all sheathmgs except wood. 

* Small air space and mortar between buil