House Building Tip: Tar/Felt Paper

September 5, 2017 by Jeff

Applying the Tar Paper:


Applying the tar/felt paper to the walls provides the backing for the stucco. Tight paper will make stuccoing much easier.

I like to pre-cut the paper for installation on the walls. Do this anytime during the house building process. It is an excellent way to keep people busy when they are looking for something to do.

To pre-cut the paper, you need 18 pieces that are 11’6” long. I prefer to attach each wall section separately. It keeps the paper lengths from becoming too long and difficult to handle. There are six total wall sections on a single house, and you need three passes to cover each section.

You have the option of making and using tar squares to apply the paper. This task is also another way that can be used to keep people busy and even involve some of the very young neighbourhood children.

I prefer to use teams of 3-4 people to apply the paper. You can have teams working simultaneously on all four sides of the house. Two people are needed to hold the paper in place and 1-2 people to nail it down.

Start at the bottom of the wall. Roll the paper out and have one person on each end of the paper holding it firmly by the corners. Once they have positioned the paper on the wall the other person/s can begin nailing it down. Start at the middle of the tar paper and work your way to the ends, smoothing it out as you go. Nails should be placed about every foot on each stud. The next row should overlap the first by about 3”. You may find that using the lines on the paper is a good guide for this. On the last pass/top row of paper, match up the top edge of the paper with the top plate of the wall.

On windy days, it is helpful to start on a wall where the wind blows the paper against the house. The finished wall will act as a windbreak and make installation on the other walls easier.

After you have finished the papering and are ready to cut out the openings for the door and windows, make sure that you carefully cut the paper tight to the edges of the door and windows. In the case of the windows, you may want to let the paper overlap the edges of the window just a little bit.


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