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Lessons from the 1940’s builders…

I’m doing a whole house remodel & addition of a 1940’s house in Central Austin and I learned a valuable lesson that I’m hoping will benefit a builder in the 2050’s when this house gets remodeled again. Here’s the front of the old house after a new facade of Artisan Siding and Marvin Windows have been installed. On the back of the house we’re doing a very modern addition, here’s the view from the garage:
See that big awning above the scaffolding? That soffit is getting clad in a beautiful 1×6 hardwood called Ipe and here’s where the lesson comes in. Last week my hardwood installer Kristynik Hardwoods pulled the hardwoods in the old dining room so we could use those old boards to patch the rest of the house where we added 1.5′ to the front of the living room/entry area. That allowed him to keep the old 2.25″ white oak boards looking consistent and the study/kitchen would get new 2.25″ white oak boards installed. Here’s a photo of one of those original 1940’s hardwood planks:

What did those 1940’s installers use to install those floors? Just one simple finish nail every 2-3′ along the board. That made de-construction and reuse simple. So, when we went to install the Ipe soffit I originally thought we’d use a bead of construction adhesive along with nails to make it super-sturdy. After seeing those hardwoods come up 70 years later I realized that the glue was over-kill and would make trying to reuse the Ipe in 50+ years near impossible. I told the guys, just use the Stainless Steel nails (didn’t have that in the 40’s) and forget the glue. The ceiling will hold fast till the next generation decides to remodel and those Ipe boards will still look flawless. -Matt Risinger