Placing Windows on a Home's Facade

Project: Bob's Shingle Style Home, Episode 11, Part 1

Blue board and plastering are underway, and Bob gets quick tips from the pros on how to make the job go more smoothly. Ryley and Danny install a huge double window to let the sunlight pour into the new kitchen, and Bob takes us to Stockbridge, MA, to tour Naumkeag, a wonderful example of the grand Shingle Style by Stanford White.

Part 1: Placing Windows on a Home's Facade
Bob discusses "fenestration," which is the arrangement of openings—windows and doors—in a building, and then meets with carpenter Bob Ryley to install a Marvin thermopane window with true divided lights (TDL). To let in a lot of sunlight, a double window will be installed in the kitchen, which will give a view of the backyard. Bob notes the structural work that must happen before such a big opening is created. Ryley explains the window installation process, noting the flush casing and sheathing. Lastly, molding is applied to the casing for a finished look.
Part 2: Touring the Shingle Style Naumkeag Historic House
Part 3: Applying a Veneer Coat of Plaster over Blueboard
This project centers around the remodel of Bob Vila's own gracious Shingle Style home in Cambridge, MA. It's a house with a lot of history and beautiful architectural details, many of which were obliterated in remodels of the 50s and the 70s. On the centennial of the house's construction, Bob gets together the best talents in the business to recreate and renew it to its former glory, making some important modifications along the way that will transform this into a dream house for today.

Also from Bob's Shingle Style Home

Hi I am Bob Vila. Welcome home again .

We have got an exciting day planned today. A double window's being installed in my kitchen that's going to give us a fabulous view of the backyard, also a door that's all made out of glass panes.

I'm taking you out to Stockbridge, Massachusetts to visit a house known as Naumkeag. It was designed by McKim, Mead and White around the same time as this house but really on a much grander scale.

And then when we come back here we'll be showing you, how to put the plaster, over the blue board.

Stick around. It's good to have you home again.

Bob Vila's home again.

Fenestration is a fancy word for window placement on the facades of a house. If you think about a classic Cape, it always has a center door, flanked by two pairs of windows.

If you think about a shingle style house it pretty much is a different animal.

Architects approach the whole issue of window placement at random almost, and if you look at this house on the right hand side, right over here, we've got a pair of windows that doesn't really match the other pair of windows. below it, and what we've design for the kitchen corner of the house is again an over-sized pair of windows right next to what would be called a French door, I guess. And this is so that we lot and lots and lots of daylight coming into the kitchen area.

And when you see it in reality here you'll get to understand it. One thing that the architects were concerned about was keeping that shingled skin of the house uninterrupted kind of, not to many shadow lines.

Hi Riley.

Hi Bob.

Hi Danny. How are you doing?

Hi Bob.

So are we painting the window I see?


Isn't that a little bit premature?

Well we just back fry them in the seal which we just put on.


And we want to make sure that everything that goes up against the house is going to be pre-primed to seal it.

And this is an alcohol based primer that dries in about.

Dries real quick.

Five or ten minutes, yeah. Now tell me about this window, Riley.

This is a double Marvin window. It's a custom item right?

That's right. This is a thermo-pane window, it has applied muttons to give it that true true divided look.

Yeah, yeah.

It's custom to fit our opening this isn't a stock window .

Yeah. Let's look at the one behind you that's already been installed here.


Because, it's unusual installation, it's an unusual design, right?

It is, what we're trying to do is duplicate what was here, at the very beginning.


And in order to do that what they've done is given us a window with the jambs are flush , all the way around. Then we apply the casings, in this very rugged sill.


And its flush surface here, from the sheathing to the...

This is what's interesting. Right.

The casing and the sheathing are flush, so that when you put the skin back on.

What we're going to do is, on top of this we'll put the supplied molding.

Yeah, but the architect was really thinking about keeping water out, making sure the shingles kept the water out. So that when the shingles come back on, they cover over this joint, in between the sheathing and the casing.


It's a very nice detail.

It's, it's very time consuming. It's very Yeah, alright well while you guys get ready to bring that up in place. Let's look at the inside of the kitchen here so that we can understand that, in order to create fenestration like this, you have to first think about structure .

And up above you can see that we had to replace much of the structure in this area of the house because it was damaged, had been cut up, and we have a built up, engineered beam that goes across the whole span , from here, back to that point. It's broken.

The span broken by a post here and another post here.

So there's a series of three short spans, but look what happens over here, okay? You got that, sitting right here with nothing underneath it.

And what's happening is that another engineered piece of lumber is helping all this load transfer itself down to here and come down this post all the way to the foundation.

That makes it possible to really have an opening that's almost ten feet interrupted right here, but it makes it possible for it structurally to work out just fine. So are we ready to bring the window into place?

I believe we are.

Yeah. Yeah.

OK. Now you've done some of this work already. You've already got shims in place.

And you dry fitted right?

Yes we have, yeah. So, it should go right in.

Now Railly, when you're putting in, you just have to go back to about an an inch.

There we go.

Thank you.

Back to me?

OK, tight.

OK, because the casing butts up against the other casing and that's the detail. There's no shingling in-between the windows.

Right, but the key to installing these windows is being sure that the shims are underneath the horns of the window, because that's what's carrying the wind inside.

The horns of the window are the structural part of the window, right here.

That's right.

That comes right there.

And this is what's gonna be carry in the weight and once we nail, we nail it into Move the frame and the headers all the way around. We want to be sure that we get some space in here so that the insulators can come behind us and tuck some insulation in there loosely.

If this is too tight. They'll have a tendency to jam it in and that would cause the window to not open.

Absolutely, absolutely, that's a very important point. If they put too much in the, in the window its jammed up.

Its jammed up.

You'll have trouble operating.

What about the header of you put the windows straight up against the header of there?

No, the header is just carrying the weight of the beam and everything above, it is not anything structural for the window. We try to do that when the header started moving around, which it's going to do eventually, it may damage the windows.

Here you have less like link up, the structural number moving on you if its an engineered piece of wood like this is, but if it's a regular dimensional two by twelve, say, it might shrink, it might move.

And if there is movement between that and the window.

you might have some cracked glass, right?

Oh, definitely.

Boy, the door's really nice too, isn't it?

One thing I love about this type of door is that the hardware has the shaft in a bolt so that when you close it, it actually throws a bolt right in at the bottom of the sill where you see this striker plate down here and another one at the top. So you have a very very tight lockup .

OK, and that's all there is to it, right?

Just driving the nails through and then we'll apply the moulding and we'll get the shingling all done.

Nice job fellows.


Okay, we're gonna have to break for some messages and when we come back, we'll be in Stockbridge Massachusetts in the beautiful Berkshire Mountains visiting Naumkeag, a most unusual house. Stick around. We'll be touring Naumkeag with its curator, Mark Bare. and I guess the first question, what does Naumkeag mean?

It's a Native American Indian word. It's actually what the Naumkeag lived in what is now Salem, where Mr. Cho grew up.

I see. So he named it after his hometown, or the Indians from his hometown area.


That's right. That's right.

But, Mr. Choat was a wealthy New York attorney, right?
He was an attorney for over 60 years, he was also ambassador to England at the turn of the century.

A man of note and he commissioned one of the most famous architects of the late nineteenth century.

Stanford white.


Of Mckeneeden and White.


And they designed a terrific country home.

Which is really a single style home, right.

That's correct.

And use of a lot of local material, wood on the dormers, coving. You've got replication of design elements the dentation of the copper gutters running along in Horizontal lines.

The little saw tooth, that you see in the gutter, which is picking up on the saw tooth that he's got on the shingles all around, yeah.

That's correct.

But when you look at the sides of the gable ends, it's almost like fish scales going up and down the sides there.

You've also got the way the roof line curves up into the dormers and out. A very flowing line.

You know that's really, for a house that says, wants to be a cottage. That's a very sophisticated looking dormer up there, it's almost looks like something off of a French castle.

That's true, that's true.

Now, the idea with these houses was to be unpretentious, right?

That's correct. It's a place to come to from the city, to escape the city heat in the summer time and to relax, and the Choates did that usually western facade, which is the side of the house where the family would have enjoyed. You've got the, the terrace there and the covered porch...

Screen that gets out, a place to relax in the afternoon to watch the sunset.

Exactly. It destroyed their confidence.

This incredible vista of the Berkshire hills.

But let's walk around now so that we can take a look at the facade that presented itself to the visitor, right?

Where people came in, that's right.

So you come to this side of the house and it's a totally different design.

That's right. We moved away from the shingle style on the west side to a Norman style castle.

How do you explain that?

Well, Stanford White, the architect, had just returned from his honeymoon when he designed this house.


And he had toured through European Norman keeps, English manor halls so he's bringing those ideas here to the Chot's home.

So, he convinces them to kind of switch gears in mid-stream, and do this very formal facade. Although it's not that formal. I mean the roof almost reads like a thatched roof.

That's true. Harking back to England.


And you've got what was originally wood shake to give that heavy roof and those flowing lines.

And native stone combined with brick throughout. And, of course, a very beautiful and well incoming entry way.

All of which combines to a place to welcome guests in. Facing the road side.

What a door.

Solid oak, with bronze trimmings.

Perfect. So this is the central hall and the staircase. I love the red in here. Isn't this great?

This carpet that the family used.


Plus it's all hand carved American oak. The balusters and railings, leading up to the arched windows. Actually, stretches all the way to the third floor, and not only is it beautiful and sculptural, but its functional it allows air to pass through the house on warm summer evenings.

Yeah, but the detailing is so exciting because it's the guilded age, it's a wealthy family from the city coming to the country, but they're bringing with them the high style of New York. I mean, the turnings on the oak and balusters and the paneling throughout.

That's true.

Tell us about the the overmantle here. Is that also oak?

It is. All that intricate carving the smoke hood combined with the false ceiling beams. Giving the sense of an English country home.

Yeah. And again, the architect has just come back from touring Norman England and France and his mind is full of these details .

Those idea, full of those things. That's right.

Are those the original andirons?

Yes. Finished off in New York City.

And these tools, such heavy weight.


Giving that sense of the fireplace, where guests would be welcomed.

So, the plan of the house seems to be relatively cozy.

Its all right here, you come in through the front door. Guests are welcomed in, and the main rooms. Here are the dining room off to the right.

Yeah. It's sumptuous, but the scale of it is...

Somewhat intimate.

It's intimate, yeah. And the colors are interesting. Now, is this really 1880's?

Well, its a combination of 1880's. Standford White's works,with the table and chairs, the paneling.the carving around the mantle. Then the daughter, Mable Cho inherits the house in 1929 and she makes some changes. The fabric on the wall, the gold fabric, which was, her addition and a lot of the furnishings brought in.

The side board look like early nineteenth century.

That's 1810 from New York City.


That's plain mahogany.

And it's really perfect in this room. And then the collection of blue and white porcelain throughout . Tell us a little about the walls and the ceilings, they are very unusual.

They are. The grass paper was put in by Mable Cho, the daughter. It's Japanese grass paper.


The tin ceiling, though, is from Stanford White's time. It's part of his addition to the house.

And what is the point of a tin reflection?

Well reflecting, reflecting candle light at dinner, remember no electricity when the house was built.


Candle light to light the house up for dinner.

Marvelous. What's behind that incredible, tooled leather screen there in the corner?

That leads into the butler's pantry Serving room for the house.


It's completely furnished down to the last teacup, as is the rest of the house. All of that's here today because of the generosity of Mabel Choate, Choate's daughter, who left the house to the trustees of reservations upon her death in 1958.

So the house is open in the summer?

That's right. May to October.

Fabulous. Alright, now what's across the hall?

That leads into the library.

And it looks like an everyday cozy room, doesn't it?

It is. It's a place to gather in the afternoon. Mabel Choate would have her friends in for tea. A place to read any of the first-edition murder mysteries.


And a place to relax.

Now, she lived here until the 1950s, you said.

That's right. So she was living in the house for over 70 years. And during that time, she's putting together her collection of over 500 pieces of Chinese export porcelain.


As one example of the collecting that she did while at Naumkeag.

So that's something that's scattered about the entire house.

You'll find it everywhere.

Yeah, and yet you got the murder mysteries. From the thirties and the fourties right in this room.

Yes, first editions.

Beautiful Mahogany panel again here. Great fireplace. Whats the other side? Is it a

formal room?

The joining drawing room or formal sitting room.

Oh yes.

As you can see the place, guests will gather here in the afternoon.

Pretty sumptuous room.

Well it certainly is a place to entertain your guests after dinner.

Is that Waterford?

It is Waterford crystal. The rug looks like an Ovuson from France.

French Ovuson. All the best things.


That's it.

Just like New york. Mark, thanks for the tour.

Thanks Bob.

Stick around and we'll be right back after these messages. Okay, we're up on the third floor, and I'm going to interrupt our plastering contractor in a minute, but let's look at what's already been done. This is a vast room. It's about 24 by 28. It's a large room and it has a cathedral ceiling and when you're doing a room like this, if you're going to attempt to hang your own drywall or blue board, be careful. But, I mean, it makes a lot of sense, first of all, to pay attention to the direction that the strapping is in. Our strapping, which are the pieces of wood that are attached to the actual roof rafters, are horizontal like this. So that means that you want to put your blue board or your dry wall in the opposite direction, perpendicular to those lines, so that you get lots of nailing and then the other thing that you want to keep in mind is, that the larger the board that you use, the fewer cracks that you're going to have down the line, the fewer seams you're going to have to fill. And here we've got twelve foot sections, four by twelve foot sheets of blue board. know come down and make it a much quicker and easier job. Then the detailing.
If you've got openings such as here where we have a skylight.

This is absolutely the most important thing you have to put in the corner beam, because this is going to assure you a neat crisp corners.

But then, wherever you have sheets butting together. They come with factory agent and you see presecution and intentation through the factory.

And the reason is that is there so that you can put table worth into it, you can rough in or put in a..a.. push coat like he is doing over here, which will give you a much stronger joint in between those sheets.

But, Carlos, our plasting contractor who is from..

How are you?

Ecuador, but lives here in Cambridge.

I won't interrupt you now, because
first of all this always looks so simple when you just ch ch ch, let me see you, how you're, how you're putting it on.

I mean you, right off the Effortless, right?

A little bit, yeah.

It looks effortless, but the fact of the matter is that it takes a lot of skill and if you've really never tried it before keep in mind that if you do it wrong you've ruined it.

Let's talk about the plaster first, Carlos. What is the type of plaster that you're using?

We're using Unical base, which is mixed only with water. The minute that you add the water you have about an hour to an hour twenty minutes.

And after about an hour you have this.

The rock.

Which is otherwise known as garbage. Ok, so you've got to be quick and fast.

Let's watch you load up that pot.

Okay, you normally want to take just enough so you don't spill it all over the place. And um.

And let's just watch him go.

I guess there's something that it's in your wrist.
There are...with time you get to use your trowel a little better.

About how thick are you laying it on?

It's about an eighth, eighth of an inch.

About an eighth of an inch.



All right, it's my turn.


Can I borrow what's, what's -


- already on there?

Now the, the part of it that I can never get right is this part of it. Loading it on.

How can you tell that you're putting on the right thickness, Carlos?

Well, as you can see, you know, over there you are good. And over here a little less the amount.

But, you try to lay it in a way that is even around because you have to come back again to go over it and start knocking it down.

OK. I'll let you do that. loaded up.

So eventually.

Okay so you don't want to be bashful, you want to put a good amount.

Yes because you gotta back to the wall you about four times by the time the wall is hot so you actually remove some of it off.

And then once you got it on, you have to wait how long before you can start steel trolling?

Well normally a person like myself will do a couple of walls and then as soon as I'm done with it I would come back again and I would start to just going over it again.

And you start taking out all the impurities that you left the first time around.

OK, so you come back and hit it a second time while it's still workable.

While it is still wet, yeah.
and then, your third time you would add water because the mix starts to get hard as we continue on.

As time goes by, sure.

So, on the next one you would come back and you throw lightly water over it and you would do the same thing over again.


So you go four times over the work that you have laid on.

Okay, Carlos, get to it, we don't want to lose the room.

Thank you.

We've got to break for messages. Don't go away.

And that wraps things up for this week. But come home again next time. We're going to be doing more work up here in the third floor giving you a few hints on how you do the finish carpentry work.

Out in the front yard we'll be digging a trench to bring in a conduit for a new electrical service, and a new water pipe. That's it 'til next time.

I'm Bob Vila, it's good to have you home again.



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