Sheathing & Roof

Hello again! I’m terrible at updating the blog, but we’ve made some progress – partial sheathing on the walls and roof!


We’ve got the sheathing up on the two longs walls. It’s been a trial and error process — attaching sheathing to steel studs is a lot harder than to wood. We finally figured out the best way by the very end…

First, use self-drilling screws, like this:


A self-drilling screw with a low-profile (lathe) head! These can be found at Lowe’s. These are the same thing we put the studs together with.

These are really sheet metal screws — so when you want to pass through wood first, you have a little problem. The screw drills really fast through the wood, and then the wood starts climbing the threads while it slowly drills through the metal. This isn’t so good — it can pull out nearby screws, rendering those holes you drilled useless, and you have to make more. We tried just pressing really hard on the screw gun; this had limited success….

Then we tried pre-drilling small pilot holes to help the screws drill through the metal – basically, the same problem, but we also had to spend forever (and lots of drill bits) drilling through the metal.

Finally, we used our brains — we pre-drilled holes through the wood, large enough for the screw shank to fit through, but not the head. This is the right solution! The screw is just acting as a clamp, holding the sheathing to the studs. Then we learned they make special screws to do this — they have little wings that keep the wood from engaging the threads; those wings (theoretically) break off when they hit metal. They only make these in larger sizes than we needed for the sheathing, but we did buy them for the roof (more below)!

We’ll finish the sheathing on the two ends soon, but wanted to get the roof on. The sheathing that’s out there has been rained on a lot, and it’s quite obviously getting pretty weathered. We’ve had a little bit of warping, but nothing too serious, and no delamination.

Roof Sheathing

Roofing sheathing is like more complicated wall sheathing — thicker, higher up in the air, and at an angle. Our roofing sheathing consists of three layers — 3/4″ rigid polyiso foam sandwiched between two layers of 1/2″ plywood. Since we’re using steel, we need a thermal break outside the rafters. The 3/4″ polyiso gives us R-5, which is enough for Florida. We’ll also be adding more insulation between the studs later. (Check out this cool and helpful post for more info).

With me in the loft and Rob on the ladder, we first lifted one piece of plywood and positioned it. We put in two screws to hold it in place while we positioned the foam (held by a nail) and the second piece of plywood. Then, we screwed the entire sandwich down at once using #12 self-drilling wood-to-metal screws (those fancy ones with wings). The wings are nice, but they don’t always break off… Rob learned how to finesse the speed of the screw gun to get the highest success rate.

Working on the roof isn’t the easiest thing — we only have a couple of 8′ ladders, and it’d be nice to have something taller! So far, we’ve been working over the loft, which has been really convenient. I have a feeling the rest of the roof is going to be a bit more challenging!

It’s really neat to sit up in the loft now that it’s got a ceiling — we’re really feeling what it will be like to sleep there! Especially with the HUGE roof window cut out, it feels quite spacious. And I only ruined one tool making the window (yes, it’s possible for a jigsaw to saw through its own cord 😦 ).

In other roof news, we decided to go with the copper metallic roofing. I went to pick it up in Ocala a little while ago, and it’s really beautiful!!



  1. Pingback: Installing the metal roof, and a note about building science | Erin & Rob build a Tiny House

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