Subfloor: Day Four – Lifting, Stuffing and Sealing

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The finished subfloor

I’m horrible at estimating how long these processes take. I definitely was not expecting this day to last 13 hours, but alas, it did.

So after successfully framing the house on day one and installing the zip boards and flashing on days two and three, it was now time to lift the entire structure back onto the trailer and get it secured.

Drew, Evan and I arrived on site around 8am and prepped to lift the subfloor back onto the trailer. You’d think we’d be old pros at this by now, but it still took a bit of maneuvering and planning to get it to work. Luckily we had Drew’s dad Sam and his associate Mike to help us, both experienced in construction. We lifted and placed it without a hitch.

Because we had moved the subfloor both on and off the trailer, our framing was now out of square – meaning the corners didn’t line up measurement-wise. To square the floor, we took diagonal measurements between the two corners, then the measurements between the two opposite corners. If they matched, the structure was square. If not, well, better start pushing. That, or smack the crap out of it with a log. I’m serious!

Mike told us about how in timber framed housing, the builders use something called a “commander” which is essentially a log with a hole drilled in it to make space for a handle, and then they just use it like a mallet to help square the frame. Mike told us how, when you start working with the amount of weight we’re using, you need to start thinking out of the box to get it square the way you want it. He even suggested placing a 2×10 against the wall and then backing the trailer into it using the truck to square out one side! Wow!

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Testing the first piece of plywood to make sure it would fit.

It turned out that it was our middle section (that darned thing has been nothing but trouble) was out of whack. We got it as close as we could, then continued on with building. When it comes to squareness or, heck, even leveling, you have to pick a happy compromise and move on instead of beating yourself over the head with the level all day. From there, Evan and I added some more cripple studs for nailing edges and support while Drew cut the flooring on the tablesaw with his dad. Then we used 100% silicone to seal every seam we could find – in between all the studs, along the edges, along the wheel-well, anywhere we thought water might try to creep in.

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Evan caulking the interior of the subfloor
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One of our eight boxes of wool. How pretty is that?

After that, it was time for my favorite part – wool-stuffing! We chose to use wool for many reasons – one being that it’s non-toxic – so thankfully we didn’t need to use any sort of special installation or respiratory equipment. We had ordered eight  boxes of wool for the entire house, but at this point, we had forgotten all our original calculations and had no idea how densely we were supposed to stuff the sections. We did the best we could, and figured that too much would be better than too little. We ended up using 3.25 boxes. Later we found out we had used way too much. We were supposed to use one box for the entire subfloor. Oops. Well, our floor will either be super-insulated, or it’s going to cause us problems further on down the road. But hey, having never built a tiny house before, mistakes are expected. We’ll definitely follow the rules when it comes to stuffing the walls. We did end up initially ordering too much wool, so we’re hoping we’ll still have enough for the rest of the house. We’ll see once we get to that point. We have time before we need to order any more, because we’ll need to do plumbing and electrical before we insulate the walls.

P1000834So after stuffing the subfloor, we installed the plywood on top by gluing all the edges with a low VOC subfloor adhesive and then nailing it down. Then the rest of the day was spent bolting the subfloor to the trailer through the pre-drilled holes Drew had made the previous day, caulking the remaining edges, and viola, the subfloor was officially done!

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Securing the bolts through the trailer and into the subfloor.

And now we’re taking a well-deserved break. The subfloor was very challenging and was quite a learning curve. But we managed well. So we’re taking a break before starting on framing the walls. It’s amazing to see how far we’ve come. I’m still in awe that this thing that was once just an idea is becoming real! I’m not imagining this, we are actually building a house, something I never thought we’d do. I can’t wait to get started on the walls. Man, what a journey.

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