Tag Archives: chalk lines

Pouring Concrete Against Wall Steel

Reader CHRISTI in INOLA writes:

“Is it standard practice to pour concrete above the base trim of the building? In the attached photos you can see the red chalk line where the concrete will come up to. Help! They are coming this week to pour.”

Gentle inquirers, if you want a relatively quickly (or in this instance a 9-1-1) please include an email address to respond to. Christi has an immediate issue, however left no contact information, so all I can hope is to preempt previously scheduled posts and hope she sees this Monday.

There are a plethora of wrongs happening here, however a solution exists for every challenge.

Concrete should never be poured up against steel siding and/or trim. Never, ever.


According to National Ready Mixed Concrete Association (www.nrmca.org), “For steel embedded in concrete, corrosion results in formation of rust which has two to four times the volume of the original steel and none of its good mechanical properties”.

Steel roll-former’ warranties will be void in cases with concrete poured against steel siding.

How did this building get to this point?

This happens to not be a Hansen Pole Building, where close attention to plan details and Construction Manual instructions would have entirely avoided this challenge.

Given that the bottom of the steel siding almost entirely covers pressure preservative treated splash plank, my educated guess would be plans assumed top of concrete slab would be placed even to bottom of splash planks.  Concrete finishers appear to have not received this memo.

I am finding it difficult to believe these professional concrete guys seriously do not know better. They should have been discussing this situation with the building owner before they did anything! It appears concrete pour has been formed up so as top of interior slab and top of driveway are the same height. Rebar has been placed continuous from exterior to interior and no provision has been made for an expansion joint between. In combination I am questioning this contractor’s capability.

How to solve….

Remove wainscot panels, base and overhead door jamb trim from front of building. It appears there exists an interior steel liner, therefore remove all liner panels. Cut off wood overhead door jambs ½ inch above eventual top of concrete. Completely wipe chalk lines off all steel panels.

Have concrete finisher change rebar to be discontinuous between interior and exterior. An expansion joint needs to be placed between the  interior and exterior. Top of the driveway should be lower than top of the interior slab and driveway should be sloped away from thr building.

After concrete has well cured, reinstall interior and exterior base trim. Drip leg of base trim should remain ½ inch above top of concrete. Trim top edge of jamb trims so bottom will finish to same height as bottom of base trim. Trim top of wainscot panels so when installed bottom edge of wainscot will be 1/8” above flat of base trim when installed.

Although not ideal, bottom of liner panels can be trimmed off. If tops were to be trimmed, screw holes in steel would not align with wall framing. Same rules apply to relationship between liner base trim and liner panels.

New screws should be used when reinstalling both exterior and liner panels.

Snapping Lines on Steel with Chalk


As kids, we grew up as the last house before the street surface changed from asphalt paving to dirt. Unlike today’s children, whose parents can buy “sidewalk chalk” in a myriad of colors, we improvised.

Whenever a new home was being drywalled near us, we would scrounge for scraps of sheetrock. As creative children of five and six years old, we’d use the edges of these pieces to outline chalk “roads” on the pavement.

Doing this manually was tedious as well as tough on our little backs, so we took things a step further. My red Radio Flyer® wagon was hitched to the back of my friend Danny’s older brother’s bike. Now the Radio Flyer® was designed for lots of things, however where we were going with this experiment, was probably none of those.

I’d lay down in the bed of the Radio Flyer® on my tummy, facing the rear. In each hand, a piece of sheetrock scrap. With the propulsion from the bike, we could produce (what to us anyhow) seemed like miles of chalk roads in no time at all.

Similar to the Ancient Roman adage, “It’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye”, is “It’s all fun and games until someone gets launched from the back of a Radio Flyer® wagon and fractures a clavicle”.

Thus was the end of our chalk roads.

Growing up in a family where my Dad and Uncles were framing contractors, we found out chalk had uses other than for making “roads”.

Developed in ancient Egypt (think pyramids) “chalk boxes” are used by carpenters to mark long, straight lines on relatively flat surfaces, much farther than is practical by hand or with a straight edge. A chalk box draws a straight line by the action of a taut cotton or similar string, which has been coated with colored chalk (most often blue or red, but other colors such as yellow, white and fluorescent orange are available).

The chalk box string is laid across the surface to be marked, then snapped sharply, causing the string to strike the surface leaving behind a straight chalk line where the surface has been struck.

We sadly now live in an overly litigious society, so the chalk box package reads like a television pharmaceutical commercial, “WARNING: TO AVOID RISK OF INJURY ALWAYS WEAR SAFETY GLASSES AND OTHER APPROPRIATE SAFETY ITEMS FOR PROTECTION. FAILURE TO DO SO CAN RESULT IN BODILY INJURY.” About the only thing more embarrassing than being launched from a Radio Flyer®, would be to incur a debilitating chalk box accident.


When it comes to the use of chalk near steel roofing and siding, the following warning should have been added:


Chalk LinesEven small moisture amounts will cause chalk dust lines (as well as any black or “lead” pencil marks) to permanently damage steel surfaces. These marks create an “electric cell”, which deteriorates the finish. This will cause chalk lines or pencil marks to be “seen” for the life of the building!

How do I know? The 100’ x 100’ warehouse for Hansen Buildings (built by someone else long ago) has beige steel siding with…you guessed it…horizontal somewhat faded (but still very obvious) red chalk lines on every