Saturday, May 14, 2011

With ceilings now all down except for the kitchen, it's been a pleasant surprise to see how well put together the structure is. It's no wonder this house has lasted roughly 2 centuries and remains so strong.

Imagining how this house was built without power tools leaves me in wonder of the skills the Japanese had so long ago that have now sadly disappeared.

Unfortunately it's difficult to show how thick the beams are without proper lighting for the camera, but there are tree trunks that span almost the entire length of the roof. Each fits into another with joints that are secured with wooden wedge pins.

Main (Horizontal) beam shown runs almost the entire length of the roof.

Upstairs spare room. The upper beams will be about 170cm high from what will be tatami flooring using the best (which are to be newly recovered) mats that were previously downstairs. Ceiling will be above the beams, similar to arrangement downstairs.
Not yet decided if we'll have Sugi (Japanese cedar) stained ceilings or plain wallpapered plasterboard in this guest room. This can be decided later.

Looking up from the central lounge room. Only the immediate (thick) brown beams will be visible once the ceiling is in place. These are now cleaned of dust & will be treated with linseed oil to bring out the grain. The more the beams are oiled through progressive years ahead, the more protected and beautiful they will become. They'll always remain a dark colour.

The roof is about 60cm thick. There's a thick bamboo structure with rice straw thatch, then two layers of wood framing and covering, topped with a copper roof.
As the thatch holds dust & soot from the irori fires that were burnt inside the house to ward away insects, it creates a lot of dust.

My friend Mark told me of Arnie's engineering skills and now I'm beginning to see them coming to fruition.

The frame for the ceiling in the central lounge room.
We were originally planning to have a plasterboard ceiling, but on Arnie's suggestion will be having stained and satin varnished Sugi wood. This is the material traditionally used for the grander rooms of these houses. It's also cheaper to do, as Arnie has bought plain boards which he'll plane & groove to fit with plywood fillets to minimise warping due to heat & moisture.

This is one of the 2 non-structural beams removed from the central lounge which had been used to support the lower ceiling. It's about half the thickness of some of the structural beams. When removing it, Arnie had no choice but to cut it out, followed by removing the joint which went about 18 inches through a vertical post, secured by a concealed wooden wedge pin.

To avoid having dust enter the house each ceiling will be sealed with thick plastic sheeting before having about 30cm of insulation fibreglass laid on top.
This is the same plastic sheeting that's been used to protect the under floors from drafts before laying insulation, but there's been other preparation first:

Cutting framing for the floor. Arnie needed to shim this as necessary, so the plywood will sit such that when the oak flooring is laid at the end, it'll be flush with the other parts surrounding the floor.

Framing the floor after having first laid plastic sheeting. This will protect from intrusion by insects, drafts, etc.

This insulation is usually used between plasterboard walls, but is put to good use here. It'll help keep the floors fron being noisy and protect from condensation as well as helping maintain heat inside during the winter.

Plywood under flooring is 1.5cm thick. Slotted and fitted with plywood filets to keep it from warping. Also protected with creosote on the underside.

Finished flooring in the main lounge for now. Next, the ceilings will be put in, then the plasterboard walls, covered in a permanent off-white coating made from crushed abelone shells, which is very long-lasting and a more traditional coating than modern wallpaper (Cheaper too). Apparently, it's not too difficult to trowel on.

Once the ceilings and walls have been completed the beveled edge solid oak flooring can be glued & fitted into place. The same processing will be applied before laying oak hardwood flooring in each room.

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