Christmas Eve – Tis the Season to Install Joists

The Onuska’s (Dad, Mom, Liz, Anthony, Angela, Sam and Leo.  Joe stayed in the paradise known as Florida) had Christmas Eve Dinner at 7pm.  But before I was permitted to eat, my dad had me put in a solid 4 hours working on his project; which is a complete rehab of a commercial brick building in Beaver Falls, PA!  My dad wanted to set a section of new floor joists in place and level the floor. This needed done because he had pulled out the rotted joists and many of the other joists still in place had sunk due to 100+ years of thermal cycling and moisture retention.


About ready to Do Work!


We started with setting up our heat source… a 1000W halogen work lamp!  It was cold out at 17 degrees (F) and the lower section of the building is not insulated with holes in the walls, so we were pretty much outside.   Each breath emitted was evident through the vapor being quickly condensed in the air.


This image is taken standing at the back of the building looking towards the front which resides on the main drag through Beaver Falls, 3rd avenue.


The original joists were at 9-5/8″.  We ripped 2×12’s down to size and notched the ends of the joists to sit on the 6×8 ledger in the foreground.    Here my dad is chiseling out some mortar at the top of the brick pocket to allow us to shim under the joist, bringing it level with the others.


Using the camera timer, I was able to capture this photo of us measuring the gap height needed to bring the joist to level.  We then cut the shim to the measured height and wedging the shim on the brick foundation.


Post installation.  We installed x5 new joists (one of which is a double joist) and reset several of the existing ones.   We installed blocking at mid-span and on the ends of some of the joists to prevent cupping and/or twisting once the floor is loaded.


Each joist was pocketed in the brick work.  The joists were cut approximately 1 inch short to allow an airspace between the brick wall and joist end.  the sides of the joists were shimmed with cedar to keep them from moving left-to-right and to keep the top surface parallel with adjacent members.


Looking through floor to basement level.  the floor can support at least my weight at mid-span!


Here is a detail of the ledger end.  The top section of the joist measure 2″ thick and the remaining depth is toe-nailed into the ledger to support the weight of the floor.  There is also a brick wall under the ledger that we shimmed the joists along just for good measure.


All in all, it was fun working with my dad and it me even more thankful to eat dinner with the family in a warm house!

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