This will be the first post in a long saga of something I like to call the, “Log Cabin Room.” The log cabin room is a part of our house that really doesn’t fit with the rest. The original owner of the house told us that the log cabin room was the very first section built, to be followed years later by what is now known as the “Main House.” I’ll show you photos of the house from the outside soon enough, so you know what I’m talking about.
The reason I call this particular part of the house the log cabin room is because it truly is one. The walls are six inches of solid wood. I think it was constructed as a kit of some sort. I’ll tell you one thing – it’s tough. The logs of the log cabin are heavy and dense. While standing in the room, I can hardly hear anything outside, besides what makes its way through the old windows that will soon be replaced. It’s an interesting room too – one that’s got its own feel. The rest of the house is post and beam and this area is logs and stick built. When it’s finished, it’ll have more sheetrock in it than the property in its entirety.
When we arrived here in November, it was cool outside. I knew we had oil heat, which was quickly switched over to pellet heat. What I wasn’t aware of was how things would operate though the Winter. What would freeze? Where would the cool spots be? What would I have to work on later? All valid questions for someone who just moved into a house in Maine. And if you have read the posts on my other blog, you know exactly what happened – the plumbing and baseboard heating pipes froze and the beginning of the season was a nightmare. I suppose the frigidly utterly freezing temperatures didn’t help things any.
Early on, I closed off the log cabin room. We still used oil for hot water and the most I could do in that room was to turn the thermostat down to 40 degrees. There’s a door between that and the rest of the house, so dropping the temperature and basically ignoring the room for the duration wasn’t very difficult. But when we began running low on oil and after I installed the electric water heater and flipped the switch for the oil boiler to the off position, the room got cold enough to burst a baseboard heating pipe. I didn’t find this out until earlier this week, which is fine because I intended to cut the baseboards out anyway. Interesting though – I really thought that room would stay warmer than it did. I had the door to the basement open. I thought the warmer air from down below would make its way up. I guess the draft from the leaky windows won that battle. The cold air fell right on top of the baseboards.
My original goal has been to install a real wood burning stove in this house. I just wasn’t sure where I was going to put it. After all the drama of this past Winter and after installing the pellet stove in the main part of the house, I decided to put the wood stove in the log cabin room. I’ve been, and still am, concerned that a wood stove in that room may “heat us out,” but I’m willing to take that risk. Honestly, sitting in a room with a fire glowing in a wood stove while it’s -24 outside, being a bit too warm, is the least of my worries. Still, I try to see things from all angles.
Anyway, let’s cut to the chase here. My current goal for the log cabin room is to gut it, to install the wood stove, to replace the windows, to insulate and to finally sheetrock everything. I’ve done all this stuff before, so it’s not like it’s anything new. It’s just that I really don’t enjoy these types of projects at this point in my life, so my procrastination level is running high. I know we need a heat source and I know the room needs to be insulated. What I don’t think we need is to make things look like they just jumped out of a Pottery Barn catalog, so I’m trying to battle all the advertising I’ve absorbed through the years and am really, really attempting to keep it as simple as possible.
A few weeks ago, I got this urge – the urge to start ripping things apart. The outside temperatures were finally above freezing enough to not have a profound effect on the temperature of the rest of the house if I made a drastic change in that one room. I decided it was time, so I began the gutting portion of the journey. The below pictures show you what the log cabin room looked like “almost” before I pulled out my hammer all the way to what it looked like after I removed all the sheetrock from the ceiling.
As you can see, there are elements of post and beam, which were hidden by the sheetrock ceiling. Personally, I would never have covered them up. I think they look great and I would have used rigid foam insulation as best I could on the vaulted areas in an effort to maintain the room’s spacious feeling. Actually, that’s the plan.
From the point I altered the appearance in the room to a few days ago, weeks have passed. But just this Sunday, I decided it was time to get off my butt and make the investment in the wood stove I’ve been eyeing for over six months. It’s an Englander model that I’m sure I’ll discuss ad nauseum in the future. Today’s effort though is merely to post a few pictures that have been cluttering one of my folders and to let you in on the progress of my latest project.
Like I said, Sunday was the day. Laura and I hopped in the truck and drove down to the Home Depot in Waterville. It took no more than seven seconds for me to tell the girl who works in gardening to ring up the stove. We paid and had them load it up in the back of the truck. While we were there, I had them, graciously and freely, load up four of their extra and currently unused pallets they had laying around. Ask and you shall receive. Sometimes.
The stove weighs 455 pounds. In order to get it out of the truck, I backed up almost to the garage and tilted an extra door we have laying around from the base of my pallet collection to the tailgate. The pallets are secured, so I wasn’t worried about the door slipping out and falling from the tailgate. After that, Laura and I slid the stove down the door. This was after I removed the stove door and the firebricks to lighten the load, of course. Once the stove was on the ground, Sam, from up the road, helped me pull it in the house and up the six steps into the log cabin room. There she sits today.
Sunday and Monday were the days I also tore up the carpet and removed the baseboard heat in that room. You can see that from the picture above. It’s refreshing to be liberated from those baseboards, I’ll tell you.
The hearth has been an issue for me. There are about a million variations of what can be done, and many of them are extremely extravagant. What I’m looking for is simple and something that meets the requirements of what’s laid out in the stove manual. Essentially, what “code” would call for. And in this case, it calls for a hearth that has at least a “R” value of 1.5, that’s over one inch thick and that’s at least 39 inches wide and 52.5 inches deep. If these guidelines are followed, I should save my wooden floor from burning through and I should maintain the rear wall clearance that’s called for later in the manual. I decided that a hearth that’s approximately 2 in the “R” value arena would be better. And one that’s 49 inches wide and 60 inches deep. More space gives me more wiggle room. And the hearth I’m building will be about 5 inches thick, so it’ll exceed code in all areas. Helps me sleep at night, I suppose.
After much pondering, I figured the best way to go would be to beat the code requirement flat out with cement board. To get an R value of 1, I would need to lay 1.92 inches, or 4 half inch layers of cement board. That would be two inches and a bit over the 1.92. I put down 6 layers, or 3 inches of cement board, which should exceed the 1.5 R value that’s called for. Anything I put on top of that would be gravy. I decided to lay 1 3/4 inch pavers on top of the cement board.
Below are pictures of what I’ve completed so far. I plan on finishing the paver layout and then creating some sort of a wooden boarder to keep everything snug. This isn’t a fancy hearth, but more one to meet the code requirements for the stove. And one that had a total cost of around $200. Not bad.
All this came at just the right time too, because Sam, from up the road, dropped off some pallets for me to stack my wood on. Now I have quite enough pallets to last for a good long time. I’ll take more though, just in case you’ve got any!