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Building a Greenhouse
     1. Getting Started
     2. Foundations
 -->3. Framing/Brick <-- You're here!
     4. Glazing / Covering
     5. Heating, Venting & Cooling (HVAC)
     6. Finishing Touches: (A) Spires (more soon)

Chapter 3 -- Framing / Brick:   This section is based on the Victorian conservatoy pictured on this site.  Simpler greenhouses will not be so involved.

The Main Room

Build the main room 16' x 16' room first.

  • Position the four 6x6x10' corner posts first. Measure the height and position of the anchor bolt. Cut 2" tall by 3" wide by approximately 3.5" deep notch in post 1" higher than the top of the bolt. Caution: make sure when you tighten down the nut that you have thread remaining. Drill a " hole from base through notch. Soak the bottom 18" in wood preservative. Position notch to face inside instead of outside if possible. Using a long level to check plumb, brace the post in two directions (900 apart) with long boards and stakes in the dirt. Add remaining 7 posts & Brace.
  • Notch ends of 6x6x16' sill beams. Carefully place on top of the posts and temporarily tack in place with duplex nails. Drill 3/8 diameter holes 12 " deep and counter bore " through both sill plates; secure with x12" galvanized lag screws with washers.
  • Install (4) diagonal tie bars. Use galvanized or stainless bar 4 x 1 x6'9" with a 5/8" diameter hole drill in the center of the bar 1" from the end. Drill 3/8 hole 5' deep in line with each hole. Secure bar with x5" lag screw and washer.
  • Check for plumb and level and adjust.
  • Tack temporary diagonal 2 x 4 corner braces on the interior.
  • The Side Rooms

Repeat the following steps for each room

  • Position the two 6x6x8' corner posts first. Measure the height and position of the anchor bolt. Cut 2" tall by 3" wide by approximately 3.5" deep notch in post 1" higher than the top of the bolt. Caution: make sure when you tighten down nut that you have thread remaining. Drill a " hole from base through notch. Soak the bottom 18" in wood preservative. Position notch to face inside instead of outside if possible. Using a long level, brace the post in two directions making sure it's plum.
  • Nail a temporary support blocks to the 10' posts with their top surfaces level at a height of 8' from the floor.
  • Notch ends of 4x6x8' seal beams as shown. Carefully place on top of the posts and temporarily tack in place with duplex nails. Drill 3/8 diameter holes 12 " deep and counter bore " through seal plate; secure with (2) x8" galvanized lag screws and washers.
  • Install (2) diagonal tie bars. Use galvanized or stainless bar x 1 x27" with a 5/8" diameter hole drill in the center of the bar 1" from the end. Drill 3/8 hole 3' deep in line with each hole. Secure bar with x3" lag screw and washer.
  • Cut all rafter parts. Position ridge with 4 rafters, front and back and ridge support. Nail into place with galvanized framing nails.
  • Add remaining rafters.
  • Repeat the remaining side rooms.

The Mid Joists

Now for the tricky part . . . the coffered ceiling of the main room.

SAFETY NOTE: Make sure the frame is securely braced and fastened before you start the roof. The diagonal tie bars must be installed and the side rooms assembled with cross bracing. Cross bracing also needed on the back wall until arch and plywood are in place. Also, you will be working in the air, 10' off the ground. Use scaffolding, tie lines and safety harnesses to reduce risk of injury.

  • Build temporary platform to support ridge beams and workers out of 2x12's, 4x4 support posts, and plywood.
  • Build ridge box out of 2x8s, support on posts at the proper elevation and position.
  • Add support joists and adjust as necessary. Fasten all joists and install top plates.
  • The Cupola
  • Fasten sill to ridge box.
  • Screw 6x6 blocks to the sill with 8" lag screws by drilling 3/8' holes up from the bottom and counter boring ". Shim as necessary to make plumb and tighten down.
  • Install top plates, center divider and diagonally brace for stability. Install (4) diagonal tie bars. Use galvanized or stainless bar x 1 x 27" with a 5/8" diameter hole drill in the center of the bar 1" from the end. Drill 3/8 hole 3" deep in line with each hole. Secure bar with x3" lag screw and washer.
  • Build temporary platform and support key in center at proper height. Cut all rafters and center key.
  • Install corner rafters, nail and remove supports.
  • Install last four rafters.
  • The Brick

Brick is not difficult with practice; just a little tedious.

  • Lay out the brick between the posts with approximately 3/8 inch between the brick. Adjust the gap as necessary to finish with a whole or half brick.
  • Make a story pole – a thin stick with evenly spaced lines marking the height of each course of brick. The top line should be at 34" from the bottom.
  • Mix a small batch of mortar. 3 parts sand and 1 part mortar cement. The mortar should be the consistency of whipped cream. Not runny and not dry. Set the first two bricks, one at each end, laying down a 1-inch-thick bed for each. Check for level in both directions, tapping gently with the handle of your trowel to make adjustments. String a mason's line to mark the level of the first course of bricks. Hold the line in place with bricks.
  • Build the lead – the beginning point for your courses. This is six courses high with each course half of a brick shorter than the one below it, (Remember that a brick is half as wide as it is long.) Level and plumb each course, and use a story pole to check for height. Lay down mortar and add the first course. Butter the end of each brick where it abuts another. Add the mortar by making a swiping motion along all four edges of each face.
  • Duplicate the lead on the other end of the wall. String a mason's line as a course guide, using line blocks to hold the line flush with the face of the bricks. Using the line as a guide, fill in each course, remembering to throw, furrow and butter. Cut bricks by first scoring a line around the brick. Thin crack the brick using a mallet and a brickset.
  • Continually adjust for level and straight courses, tapping gently with a mallet and 2x4. As you proceed, scrape off excess mortar with your trowel, taking care not to smear the bricks. Every so often, press the mortar with your thumb. If it feels firm and your thumb impression does not change shape, the joints can be finished.
  • Using a pointing tool, first smooth out the vertical joints, then the horizontal. Gently brush away excess as you work. Wash any smeared spots carefully with a damp rag -- once the mortar has set, it will be difficult to remove.
  • The Lower Sill / Vertical Dividers / Horizontal Dividers.

Cut the sills to length and position them with the tops 36" from the floor and level.

  • Fill in the gap above brick with mortar.
  • Position 2 x 6 vertical dividers between each sill and top plate in the center of each 8 foot wing. Toe nail in place with 16 d galvanized finishing nails.
  • Position 4 x 6 horizontal divider in the corner window of the main room with it's lower edge at the same height of the wing top plate. Toe nail in place with 16 d galvanized finishing nails

 

 
[Getting Started] [Foundations] [Framing] [Glazing / Roofing] [Heat-Cool]

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