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Tuesday, 22 September 2020


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Some thoughts on your foundation.
To last 'forever' rather than decades I'd consider a concrete slab rather than wood. Cost differential could be a big factor.

With wood, extra prep work to make for good water drainage is important.

As to rot resistant woods used did you consider white [never red] oak? White oak is rot resistant and has been used for centuries in ship building as well as for whiskey or other barrels. It grows in nearby New England and should be pretty cheap in your area.

We insulate vs. heat in the desert but in NY I'd also go the max on insulation. Added cost of a little extra insulation is small compared with your heating bills.

A skid mounted structure may be susceptible to frost heaving or varying moisture conditions in the soil.Ordinarily this wouldn't matter much but a high quality pool table expertly installed would suffer from out of level conditions.Building budgets are always top of mind but the extra expense of concrete pilings below the frost line would alleviate any movement concerns

Maybe a mini-split that can heat and cool? I don't live in your neck of the woods so I can't say if it can handle the heating portion during the winter.

Is humidity an issue?

The cat on my lap right now is 17 years old and has had a couple expen$ive vet visits. It's difficult, and maybe we worry too much about pets, but you know, they're not wild animals. They bond with us and depend on us.

You're right to recognize in advance that your decisions will be imperfect. "A man's got to do what a man's got to do."

Mike, I would advise that the 3/4 inch flooring is screwed to the joists and not shot nailed. Screws will resist moving much better and will ensure that your complete floor component will act as a diaphragm over its entire area.

If it is not too late, use treated 3/4 plywood. I don't know if you have bugs in the finger lakes area, but they can't eat this kind of plywood, and it should survive moisture better.

I have a darkroom about this size, and used a mini split AC/heat pump. DON't do that. On a tight budget, and not needing AC (?), cheap is a space heater, electric. which are decent and you can keep a modest low temp. Do pool tables
react to very cold weather??

Also, insulate the daylights out of your building and you will be happy for years. Don't skimp on insulation. My darkroom hollds temp for days.

I have one potential concern about your spray insulation. Check the flammability rating. Spray or foam insulation has a number of good points, but some of them can be an issue when it comes to fire issues.

- Tom -

Re. "Plywood is nailed on top of the joists…”: NO, do NOT use nails! Use #12 stainless-steel (grade 18-8) deck screws with buglehead square drive (Robertson #3) sockets. Screws of this type are often used in California when constructing outdoor decks. Assuming that you intend to mate 3/4" plywood panels to 2x6" joists you'll need these screws to be ~ 4 inches minimum in length. Refer https://www.boltdepot.com/Product-Details.aspx?product=23239

Yes, more $$$, but well worth the cost. Your installer might resist because he’s so used to nails and nail guns, but these screws are the better solution, and install easily with a powered drill and #3 square drive (Robertson type) bit. I’d urge that you furnish these screws to your installer rather than relying on him to buy them. That will assure you of getting the right quality (18-8 s/s) and not paying a materials upcharge.

Nails won’t stay put; they’ll walk (rise). Nails are especially prone to do so given the temperature cycling variance and loading that this flooring will see.

In some outback houses in the past, they install a pot belly stove that provides both heating, cooking (you might want to keep your coffee hot), and decor/elegance.

Just sayin' only.

Absent a concrete block foundation to get below the frost-line or a monolithic slab, I would be concerned about seasonal ground movement due to the freeze/thaw cycle. It would not matter if this were a lawn mower shed but a pool table shed is another matter. You may find yourself frequently--or at the least-- seasonally adjusting the level of the table, especially at the end of winter and early spring. As for heat, why not a small wood stove? You might also consider electric baseboard or space heaters. Electric heat, however, can quickly get pricey as they are energy hogs.


What you have described as a strong foundation is in fact a temporary foundation. There is no mention that it will be raised on piers, so I would assume that the skids rest on the ground. These WILL rot out, it's just a question of how soon. Also there is the possibility of the shed gradually and unevenly settling when a large weight is placed inside. Not a problem for a car, but I think it would be for a pool table. Also the floor structure, even if it is sufficiently strong, seems as if it would be prone to vibration.

This plan sounds as if it is a way to legally avoid having to pull a building permit --- under X square footage and with a TEMPORARY foundation, a solution common to many rural jurisdictions.

Granted, a permanent building will cost more up front, but will be less expensive to heat and cool. You should talk with a good HVAC tech regarding the heat pump idea, maybe not the best way to go. If you think that you may want to go the permanent route contact me, I would have some suggestions; been there and done that.

Jeff Markus

[I have a building permit!

I can't afford a stick-built on slab. We do what we can.... --Mike]

My dog Gypsy is in the same age bracket, I didn't think she was going to make the winter 2 years ago but she is still here with us. She stumbles and trips, hardly goes for a walk but still gets excited for dinner.

For a few years I lived south of Albany, in a small woodframe house not built on a slab. The ground floor was cold and damp and a heat hog. The house had baseboard hot-water heat from an instantaneous water heater, which worked well and heated up the place quickly. I wish I had investigated geothermal heat pumps when I moved in. Pellet stoves work well, and come with timers these days. You're already in the building permit stage but others' warnings here about slab/no slab seem wise. The volatility of the climate these days seems to hint at great freeze/unfreeze cycles which could mean trouble for the pool table -- such a heavy, inflexible object on four potentially shifting points. A pay me now, pay me later situation?

This is a quite a small space, so managing radiation is also important (for both heating & cooling). I would suggest specifying reflective foil under the insulation (double sided) to reduce solar accumulation in summer and increase heat retention in winter.
For such a small space, personally, I would avoid any combustion system (sealed or not) due to the risks associated with carbon monoxide - it takes very little to be lethal in such a small space without proper ventilation.
I've been looking at specs for a similar sized shed (for different reasons). My heat installation will be 2-fold: tubular heaters (of the sort used for greenhouses) on the walls, and panel radiative heaters hung from the ceiling. Install with a thermostat and timer switch. Most of feeling hot or cold is as much about radiation effects on the body as actual air temperature. This set up helps you feel warm with a relatively lower air temp, especially in a small space.
For cooling, depends on your max summer air temperature. If you can avoid active cooling (aircon) and use natural ventilation (open door & vent of some sort in opposite wall), that'll keep the bills down. Using aforementioned radiation shield should keep most of the summer heating at bay.

Concrete slab founded below frost line.


Wood stove for heat – no reliance on electricity (winter storms and grid goes down, which it will as US infrastructure is in decline). There’s plenty of firewood up your way, right? As a luxury you can have an A/C unit, too. But don’t make yourself dependent on it.

We just did a bedroom addition and bought a mini-split to heat/cool. Works well and we are happy. But they are not silent and the fan runs a lot when it gets really cold. Might get annoying if the fan is blowing on the table.
Probably way to expensive but you should at least look into a cement slab with in floor radiant heat. Absolutely silent, warm floors for bare feet, no fan and steady even heat throughout. In my humble opinion the best way to heat

Looking forward to playing a set with you whenever I can visit again.

Hope Lulu is comfortable.

I would heat it with an infrared panel.

Nothing will heat hotter any billiards lover that this news!


I loved the Music Man video. I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone use the word ‘jasper’ before.

Punxsutawney Phil: I recently came across this deleted scene from Groundhog Day that features Bill Murray clearing the table and trolling locals for action. I like Bill in this scene but imagine the acting abilities of the extras account for it being a deleted scene.

Hey, Mike...you know what they say about opinions! But that seldom stops me, so here goes, anyway:

If, as I gather, this floor must remain level and planar, I think I'd have to at least investigate the cost of frost-free footings.

If you proceed with the skids & joists, might you select your table ahead of construction, so that you could arrange the skid/joist junctions to be directly beneath the table legs? That way the weight would not be borne on any portion of the plywood span, which I'd think could likely be subject to some degree of deflection over time.

Just thinking out loud, so TIFWIW.

(When this COVID thing "beautifully just goes away", yours will be the new gathering hot spot!)


Note, 320 sq ft is NOT a shed, it's a tiny house.


Construction/costs vary according to locale, but investing in concrete footings, either strip or pier is essential if pool is your game. Avoiding concrete might save some right now, but you WILL regret it.

Insulation is good, more insulation is better. You can usually save some money going with batt insulation vs. foamed insulation. That might allow you to use some concrete to below frost level on your foundation. Batt insulation in combination with a taped and sealed poly vapour barrier makes a good exterior wall. If you insulate and seal really well, a small, relatively inexpensive heat recovery ventilator will make things even more pleasant. These can be added later.

For fastening a subfloor to joists, screw and glue them. It's just barely more expensive than nails, and works. Standard flooring screws are fine. Robertson head screws are best, but then I'm Canadian :-).

I haven't looked up your location with respect to degree-days to ascertain your heating and cooling loads, but if you need both a mini-split heat pump is likely the best way to go. Talk to local HVAC people.

I'm retired now after nearly 50 years of architecture here in Vancouver, but I'd love to come by for a little chat about this if you were a bit closer (and there weren't all these other issues right now).

We have spray insulation in the attic - after a couple of years, it started collapsing on itself - i.e. pieces falling to the ground like a deflated balloon. It's a solution, and very reasonably priced, but not the best one. I guess worst-case scenario, you'll need to have the insulation applied again in a few years.

As for the pooch, having gone through that a few times over the years, all I can say is it sucks and you'll have second thoughts about the timing. But the best thing you can do when your dog reaches that stage is to be there with her. We had a vet who did house calls the last couple of times - it is nice to have it in the privacy of the home, as the dog is comfortable in her own bed and at ease surrounded by human and dog family. Vet clinic is not the place to do it.

Ask your vet, as many vets will do a house call for that particular purpose (and if yours doesn't, find another vet for this purpose - I am serious). Taking my first dog to the vet to have it done there, with people and animals running around just outside the exam room and the poor animal stressed out, was the worst decision I made regarding her end. Good luck.

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