"Is A Contractor Really A Salesperson If He Or She Hits Send?" by Shawn McCadden (Online, 9/17/14)

I disagree [with the article's conclusion], from a small restoration company's perspective. I will email proposals to prospective clients and have done so for years. It is fast and efficient, and allows both the client and business owner to look over the proposal for any desired changes, omissions, missed items, etc. As I am the person who actually performs the work, it is easy for me to produce an accurate proposal for a given project and it is usually very accurate and contains everything the client and I had discussed on my primary visit. If changes are desired, then I will make another trip out to review the changes the client wants and revise my proposal accordingly. —Mike LaBelle

"On The Job: Strapping Ceilings," By Matthew Anderson (Sep/14)

In [this article], I'm wondering if there would be a problem with cold return-air jumping joist bays. More importantly, is there a problem with fire containment? —Mike Blumer, Wexford, Pa.

JLC editors respond: On the issue of air returns, the joist cavity would have to be panned before strapping is installed. But—and this is an important "but"—you should never be using joist cavities as any type of HVAC return plenum or supply duct. The reasons are spelled out in detail on page 17 of this issue, where Jeff May explains the many problems with panned joist bays.

On the issue of fire containment, we went to Glenn Mathewson, a building official in Westminster, Colo., who responded as follows:

"There are limitations on the size of the floor/ceiling assemblies when using open-web floor trusses or furred ceilings below. The maximum area is 1,000 square feet before draftstopping is required. Many fire-resistive floor/ceiling assemblies require metal channel, instead of wood strapping, to attach drywall to. Metal channel is also used for sound mitigation.

If you're using wood furring strips, and the ceiling area is more than 1,000 square feet, it's easy to draftstop along a joist by putting strips down the length of the joist in between the main strips."

Mathewson is careful to note that "draftstop" has a specific meaning, and is different from firestopping and fireblocking.

Fireblocking is for wood-frame construction in concealed locations only. It is used to separate different portions of building assemblies so that fire and smoke can't travel through the house structure. Common examples in a house are the blocking that separates stairs from floors, floors from walls, and walls from attics.

Firestopping is used in any construction to protect a penetration in a fire-resistive assembly. For example, in a 1-hour wall between apartment units, any penetration of the membrane on either side would require firestopping to protect it. "Fire caulk" and "fire collars" are two common methods of firestopping.

Draftstopping is for wood-frame construction and is similar to fireblocking in its function, but is used to break large areas of one single space up into smaller spaces. Whereas fireblocking separates a wall from a floor, draftstopping breaks that floor up if it's too big. Draftstopping uses similar—but not exactly the same—materials as fireblocking. The IBC has expanded provisions for draftstopping where it is used in multifamily buildings.

"Do Fiber-Cement Butt Joints Have to Be Caulked?" by Mark Parlee (Online, 10/4/14)

StuBrooks: I can't speak about all fiber-cement siding manufacturers, but James Hardie says "No" to caulking butt joints (not including ends butting trim, which should be caulked on installation). All cut ends also have to be primed or painted before installation. If the end of a board exposes the interior due to cuts or manufacturing, it should be painted.

Amovida: We're currently halfway through a fiber-cement siding job. I used 5x6-inch metal flashing to channel water out of the joints. This serves another purpose in giving the two boards a very even surface to rest on, helping them to be level in two planes. Finally, we're using stainless steel screws for blind nailing (screwing) the corner fastener next to the butt joint. This allows us to control the pressure by backing out or turning in the screw and gives some "adjustability" to the joint. The screws are countersunk and then the heads are caulked. We have yet to try anything but factory-to-factory edges.

One of the most important aspects has been to get [and keep] this material dry.

Red Harmony: You can use anything that sheds water under the joint, but paint it first; otherwise you will have painfully obvious joints if the boards shrink apart, as they do here in the Southwest.

Published letters and comments may be edited for length and clarity.