Monday, January 29, 2007

Walls - The Simple Pleasures

Other than creating returns for the future AC system, the walls were now ready to be drywalled - finally! In preparation for this project I found a drywall lift (on EBAY of course) since I wanted to hang 12 foot sheets on the ceilings. All of the walls are a combination of 12 feet by something so this would cut down a great deal on taping. With almost an entire house to re wall, I figured I could buy 2 or 3 lifts by the time renting charges were added up. It's not the best, but it does get the job done.

I started out in the parlor, first finishing off the newly constructed fireplace wall. Then I took some measurement on the ceiling and found that the joists were not all the same height and were leveled off to the top edge on the floor above. I found almost an inch and a half difference between them, so shimming was out of the question, I would need to sister pieces to the joists. Originally the plaster guys would have leveled the surface with his mud, but drywall of course will follow whatever you mount it to. After some online research, I found a good way to level everything off. First I found the lowest joists and that became my ceiling height. Next using a laser level. I marked this height all the way around the perimeter of the room as a guide. Then using brick layers string, I ran 4 strings from end to end across the joist runs and secured at the height marked by the laser. With these strings, now I could sister to the joists and just set to the strings, giving me a perfectly level ceiling. For studs to use to sister, instead of buying 2x4 or 2x6 pine pieces, instead I used 2x6 metal studs as recommended online. With these you are guaranteed a straight piece every time.

Finally with a level surface to secure drywall to, the ceiling was installed. With this I can't stress enough how much easier a lift is than using a dead man and man power. I was able to hang 12 foot sheets by myself (and I'm not a big guy), even more important was that you could sit there, take your time, and fine tune the sheet into place. I did find it a bit harder screwing into metal studs, so the lift here was also a blessing.

Next it was time two start the walls. With 9 foot ceiling, I used 10 foot sheets vertically. Because of the stone walls, instead of studs there are 1 inch nailers that secured the lathe in no particular distance from each other. So I had to plan out my drywall seams and then add nailers where I needed them. Then due to some variations like the ceiling (though not as extreme) I had to run strings again across the wall and shim out low spots. For a little added insulation I added 1/2 inch insulation boards between the nailers which gave me about an additional R3.5 - I didn't want top use fiberglass, because the wall needs to breath with the stone. The boards lay against the rough surface of the stone and leave a gap. The stone walls themselves are 12 inches plus thick, so the first floor should be pretty tight. Biggest losses ware around the window opening which i added insulation and foam between the stone and wood construction for the windows.

This room was my first experience with drywalling curved walls. I have heard of several methods to due this including dampening the drywall. In the end though I just started from one side, top to bottom and fastened it loosely. Then work over to the next row of screws and work them in loose. After the third row, the previous row will start to stick out above the surface as the boards begins it's bend. I would go back and bring these down the surface, then continue on till I reached the other side of the piece. The key is don't force anything and use a 1/3 more screws than normally on a flat surface. You'll soon develop a feel for what the drywall will allow you to stress it before popping through a screw.

Finally worked around the entrance to the room and now the first room was walled again - I got walls again!! Ahh, the simple pleasures.

parlor drywall finished - note new (old) front door/sidelights for foyer

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