Drywall Back-Blocking in
I'm writing regarding the discussion on back-blocking for
drywall seams (Letters, 3/08). I've been asked about this code
issue many times. I know that there are efforts under way to
have some back-blocking products accepted in the code, and that
many inspectors will accept the technique.
I recently finished a job where the ceiling of an addition had
to blend into the existing ceiling. For backing, the carpenter
had attached a 2x4 to the edge of the outer ceiling joist of
the existing ceiling. If I had attached the new drywall to the
2x4, it would have created a seam that was difficult to hide
— most likely a bump in the ceiling — and
probably would have cracked in time. Instead, I cut the
existing drywall back and floated the seam between the joists,
using a metal back-blocker called the EZ-Backer
(www.butthanger.com) to create a recessed butted seam that
won't show after painting, and won't crack or ridge over
Thanks for the piece on A-frames (Backfill, 3/08). I grew up
in one and have endless fond memories and head scars. My
nonbuilder father drafted his own plans and the whole family
took part in building it in the summer of 1967 —
perhaps at the peak of A-frame fashion.
The house sported double insulated glass windows and a compact
"hot" roof: spruce decking and 2-inch asphalt impregnated
fiberboard "insulation" covered by shingles. After the first
energy crisis in 1974, we added a solar hot-water system. Then,
in 1980, we overlaid the roof with 5/4x12 locally milled white
pine "rafters" filled with fiberglass insulation, air-sealed
the leaks throughout the house, and installed a row of
3-by-7-foot glass panels set high along the entire length of
the south-facing roof.
Twenty-five years later, this passive solar system keeps the
house at about 60°F in midwinter without any
supplemental heat, provided the sun is shining. And the extra
glass solved one of the most troubling dilemmas of an A-frame:
the lack of natural daylight. My mother still lives in the
house and wouldn't have it any other way.
East Greenwich, R.I.
Remembering a Mentor
I wanted to remember Sonny Lykos, who died recently. He was an
important mentor for many of the participants in the JLC Online
forums. Sonny was not your typical contractor; he always made
it a point to teach us the business of being a great
contractor. He was the little voice in the back of our heads
whispering, "You damn well better charge for that change order;
you have a business to run!" He was a legend, but you could
call him at 11:30 p.m. to ask his advice.
Though I never met him, I — like many others in the
forums — will miss him greatly.
Fine Home Improvements of Waldwick
Found: Hard Workers
In response to the letter "Hiring Illegals: Immoral?" (2/08):
I live and work in California and see only a very few
nonimmigrant construction workers. I have never had problems
with immigrant workers. They show up ready to work and work
hard and honestly.
Contractors, like all business owners, sell what their
customers will buy. Most customers — at least in the
repair and remodeling fields, which I am familiar with
— won't pay more to hire a contractor who has all
citizen workers, pays workers' comp, and has full liability
coverage. The real cause of the problem is that clients won't
pay the ticket for GCs who follow all the rules, and instead
will go looking until they find a cheaper contractor who will
do the job with immigrant workers.
Licensed General Building Contractor