Door Done – Pink Sunset Pink House

pink house pink sunset vermont mountains full moon (almost)
I feel dumb. I’ve been struggling with installing this door over the past two days. Today I went up to measure everything and order a new door. Peeking between the door and the block wall of the rough opening in the concrete I saw where a piece of foam was touching the middle of the handle side of the door frame. That little bit of foam was bending the side of the door frame into a curve. This lowered the handle side of the top of the door frame and racked everything. I don’t know how I ever missed that before.

I cut away the offending foam, re-plumbed, re-leveled, re-shimmed and the door now closes smoothly. Sweet! After rechecking all the leveling, I screwed the base plate into the sill. Again I checked everything and the swing of the door before I hammer drilled two holes, one on each side of the door frame, into the concrete and screwed the door frame the wall. That locked the door frame tightly to the house.

The next step was to weatherize the air gaps around the door frame by filling them with foam. If you do this, note that there are two types of foam, at least. One is triple expanding which is great for filling large holes. The other is minimally expanding which is for use around doors and windows so that when it expands it won’t bend the frame causing the doors or windows to stick when opened or closed. All I had left was triple expanding. My solution was to stick shims in between the door and the door frame all the way around. Then I foamed. The shims preserved the gap so the door would open and close smoothly without binding. It worked perfectly.
Door shims foam insulation therma-tru

While the foam was curing I was locked in the tiny cottage. That is our only door and I had to shim and foam it from the inside. Our other means of emergency egress are two operable windows in the bathroom and the bedroom. Currently they have plastic on them as the windows aren’t due to arrive until January 5th. Rather than exiting through the plastic I kept myself busy using up the remainder of the can of foam filling between the blocks in the dry stacked walls. Later we’ll be parging but doing this insulating cuts drafts for now and goes deeper than the surface coating of fiber cement will. It’s also kind of fun. :)
Therma-tru door installed
Getting the door on and right was exciting. It is a really nice door with a big glass full height window which we got for a really great price on surplus so I was not looking forward to having to buy a door custom made to fit the space! A happy ending.

Outdoors: 29°F/24°F Sunny, Some Clouds, 1″ Snow in the morning, high winds
Farm House: 67°F/56°F six logs
Tiny Cottage: 53°F/42°F

About Walter Jeffries

Tinker, Tailor...
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5 Responses to Door Done – Pink Sunset Pink House

  1. karl says:

    during parging do you expect the mortar to adhere to the block or is there some further substrate–like chicken-wire or expanded lath?

    your cottage has inspired me to use ferro-crete at the dome roof of my root cellar. the rest of it will be earth-bag (chat-bag) construction with a reinforced block bond-beam as the top wall layer.

  2. Crystal says:

    So I recently found you blog and really love it. I’ve looked through the archives to find out about the final use and overal plan for you cottage but can’t seem to find where the vision started. Is this to be your home? Guest house? To what extent are you incorporating PAHS? Will this be burried when finished? How will you prevent moisture build up on walls?

    Congrats on the door! Glad it worked out.

  3. The tiny cottage will eventually be a small part of our new house. We’ll then either turn the existing house into ag use (storage, hay, etc) or sell it (it’s an antique!) and someone will have to move it in that case.

    In our old house we setup four 70′ long earth pipes that brought air into our house. That worked very well. Even at -45째F during the winter the air coming in through the pipes was warmed to over 35째F which gives us a lot of free heat as well as fresh air. We’ll do that in the new house as well but now we’ll have much more thermal mass to work with in both the building and the envelope. More details to follow on that.

    The finished house will be earth sheltered on the NW, N and NE. That will not happen for a while as we have to finish building before burying.

    Moisture is controlled in several ways:
    1. Very good drainage
    2. A water shield of layers of plastic and insulation
    3. insulating the walls to control the dew point
    4. Vapor barriers

  4. crystal says:

    Wow! Absolutely awesome! So you are building the first bit of your new house and will add on later. I’ve read about earth pipes and wondered if they really worked, how encouraging to see it in practice! As far as moisture, I was more wondering about condensation on interior walls. We are temporarily living in a 5th wheel trailer. We have to run a dehumidifier constantly. I’ve heard this is also an issue in underground/bermed houses. What are your thoughts? How are you addressing this issue?

    Thanks for letting me pick your brain. My goal is to build similarly and it is great to learn from the more experienced!

  5. Crystal, it sounds like your walls are too cool and thus not insulated enough. Insulation in a trailer can be tricky, you don’t have very thick walls to work with. What you need to do is move the dew point further outside. Right now your dew point is on the inside of your walls and your getting condensation from your breath, cooking, etc.

    If I were going to go through more than one winter in the trailer and it were feasible I would look at what ways I could add more insulation to the walls. Both as reflective insulation like the Reflectix Foil-bubble-bubble-foil for reflection of heat and some anti-conduction R-value and outside of that a true anti-conductive like a layer of pink foam board.

    The trick is you need a fire stop barrier too if you’re using the pink foam because that is combustible. That is why our house is pink – the pink board is outside the concrete. Our concrete walls are warm so we don’t get condensation on the walls.

    I would also do all I could to seal cracks and stop drafts so I could control the incoming air but that is not the issue you’re facing with the moisture on the insides of the walls.

    Good luck!


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