When you are working on the same project day in and day out, things start to become a blur. Building the roof has felt like a single continuous day– a long, exhausting continuous day of building.
As you all well know, cars experience the forces of nature at a different level than a home. With this in mind, we built from the sturdy, secured frame we had attached to the open roof of the van (see previous post for more details) without cutting any corners. Here are the continuing steps we took in finishing our new roof:
Step Four: Installing a Drip Edge
We have been lucky enough to find support and advice from family and friends along the way. A neighbor saw us building our new home and offered his professional advice, as well as generously donating supplies which included some spare aluminum drip edge he had left over from a job. We installed it straight to the frame to cover the existing rain gutters on the van and keep water from sitting in there and rusting and rotting our baby. We used ample amounts of silicone to make sure water stayed out of the rain gutters. The rest of the sheeting material we used, (OSB and tongue and groove) would then sit on top of the drip edge so that water rolls off the walls, hits the drip edge, and moves out over the gutters and runs down the walls of the van and off onto the ground– where it is absorbed, making its way though underground aquifers to the ocean, where it will evaporate and, rise into the atmosphere, turn into a cloud and fall to the earth again as rain, hit the roof of our watertight van, roll off, and start the cycle all over again.
This step is pretty straightforward– cut boards to the shape of the frame, both sides and top. The key thing to mention is that we continued using construction screws instead of nails for the remainder of the build to make sure things stayed solid.
Step Six: Wrap it Up
Here we again mention the generosity of friends who donated construction supplies in order to waterproof our van– those supplies being quality house wrap and roof taring. The minimum purchase of such supplies would be costly on our own seeing as we only needed a few scraps to get the job done. To anyone following our footsteps, I would suggest talking to someone in the industry and see if they have any leftovers to purchase for a discounted price.
We covered the top and sides with the house wrap, folding it at the corners instead of making cuts (like wrapping a gift) and secured it with staples. The taring was only used on the top of the van where it is flat and has more potential for water to stand. It came with a sticky side, but we also secured it with special staples.
Step Seven: Tongue and Groove
I’ll credit the entire brains of this step to Matt– with double mitered cuts and no straight lines to
build from, the kid really pulled together a pretty incredible masterpiece. We chose tongue and groove more for aesthetics than anything else, but also found it to be functional as well. The inch thick boards slide together causing water to roll past and down to the drip edge. After slapping a couple layers of a recommended oil-based deck treatment to each board, Matt made the difficult cuts and mounted the boards. Before putting the tongue and groove together we filled the groove with glue to secure it to the board below it, then nailed along the top of the board to secure it along its length, and once it was all together we put two construction screws in each end of each board. In other words, these boards are going nowhere. The finishing touch was adding trim to the corners and the two seams up front and along the drip edge. This not only covered the gaps in the boards and made it look better, but it also makes it easier to seal up the seams with silicone, which we used a lot of– over $100 worth. We have put it to the test and its water tight! The strange looks we got when buying a whole case of silicone tubes at the hardware store was worth it.
Step Eight: Tin Roof Times Ten
Ok so its really not made of tin, but we found a guy (through the help of our construction friend) that agreed to bend a piece of 18 gauge steel to the exact shape of the top of our van. This was a step that miraculously came together without intention, as our original plan was to finish the top with the same tongue and groove as the sides. Our biggest concern (as we have mentioned many times before) is to keep things water tight throughout the rough winter conditions, and our dear construction friend shuddered at the idea of using anything other than a solid piece of metal on the horizontally plained roof. It cost a few bucks more than we budgeted, but we are extremely pleased with how it turned out. Having the peace of mind to know we won’t be affected by water seeping its way in was worth every penny.
We assembled the dream team to lift the 80 pound roof onto the 8’8″ van. This consisted of Matt (6’7″) his Dad (6’8″) and our buddy Mikey (6’5″). We put a layer of liquid nails down first and the shiny roof fit like a glove, we secured the edges with self sealing screws, and cut out the hole for our roof vent and installed it, all the sudden the exterior of the van was done!
Our extension has been complete now for several weeks– in that time we have used the bus not only as a daily commuter (by commute I mean the many daily trips to the hardware store) but we have taken it down to the Utah desert driving though and camping in an autumn thunderstorm. We have put it to the test and it has been more successful that we could have imagined. Also, we are pretty sure the new top can double as a boat if we ever flip over into water, which of course is an added bonus.