“Hangin’ in there”—our ceilings take shape

Ceilings are one of those things that are easy to take for granted—after all, who really ever looks at ‘em, right?   Well, after seeing all the attention our ceilings have received over the past couple of weeks from so many builders, it’ll be hard to ever take them for granted again!

The sheetrock taping, mudding and sanding underway at the time of our “Spring Thaw” post a week ago moved quickly from the walls to the ceilings. Below, Tony puts final touches on the preparation, resulting in a checkerboard of taped ceiling seams…


…while Nick (below) worked at smoothing the corners of the vaulted ceilings, preparing them to receive wood ceiling planks.  The next day, they teamed up to finish the ceiling sheetrock by applying a layer of knockdown—this is a process that involves spraying what is essentially a watered-down mixture of plaster and paint, letting it dry to a splattered stalactite consistency, then smoothing it slightly with a type of trowel that ‘knocks down’ the splatters. Much easier—and nicer looking—than the last time I created a textured ceiling using paint, plaster (or sand) and a thick-matted paint roller! (Click on the photo at right for a close-up look.)


In the meantime, we’ve spent a lot of time preparing several hundred board feet of native gray elm (harvested from this area’s hardwood forests, then dried and milled by our friend Lynn Mattson) for the vaulted ceilings. This has required careful sorting and whitewashing (Nancy mostly painting, me mostly hauling!) to get the wood ready for installation. We decided to go with a whitewash to preserve the long, elegant wood grain that comes naturally to this hardwood, and to brighten up these rooms by keeping the ceilings lighter than a natural finish would. Plus, we didn’t want rooms that might feel too ‘woody’ as we’ll be using naturally-finished red elm for the flooring.


Above, Nancy is decked out in her ‘whitewashing’ attire, and later seated atop a pile of soon-to-be whitewashed boards, sharing stories about the project with friends Dale and Michelle. Below, JR and Troy are busy installing the first of the ceiling boards in the media room, moving next to the vaulted ceiling over the hallway/stairway.


While you can’t really appreciate the wood ceilings without being in the house, here’s a quick tour of what’s taken shape…from left to right (below): the master bedroom, media room, second-floor bathroom…


…the hallway/stairway, and, finishing up this week, the east studio.




Lanesboro, Minnesota
Climate Zone 6 (cold/moist)
Latitude: 43° 44' 18'' N
Longitude: 91° 54' 48'' W

House Size

Net Treated Floor Area: 1,514 SF
Gross Square Footage (House only): 2,210 SF

Building Envelope

Roof: R-99
Wall: R-61
Ground: R-53

Windows & Doors

Glazing: U-0.10 BTU / hour / sq. ft.
Solar Heat Gain Coefficient (SHGC): 0.48”
Frame: U-0.19 BTU / hour / sq. ft.

Modeled Performance

Specific Primary Energy Demand (Source Energy Demand): 12.1 kBTU / sq. ft. / year

Specific Space Heat Demand: 7.0 kBTU/sq. ft. / year

Peak Heating Load: 7,047 BTU / hour

Space Cooling Demand: 0.44 kBTU / sq. ft. / year

Peak Cooling Load: 3,625 BTU / hour

Pressure Test Goal: Whole House Air Changes Per Hour (ACH) = 0.4 ACH 50


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