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September 2007
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Drywall Patching New to Old

When you have done your demo, and put up your new drywall, you will encounter old work and your new work.
This photo is a 2fer. Here we have new to old and a common accident among first timers. Drywall is heavy, large and takes getting used to. The center shows where the drywall edge was damaged by dropping the sheet at some point prior to hanging. I cut out the damaged area, because it is loose and will bubble if you do not attend to it now. Using mesh tape is especially important here so we can fill the voids. Notice that my mesh tape is installed on the horizontal flats first, and the vertical mesh for the transition is second.
Patching drywall with mesh tape

This photo shows where we have mudded and embedded our horizontal tape. We will cover the vertical mesh when we use paper tape for the inside corner.
Horizontal seams with a second coat of mud

Here is the finished product. This was the doorway we eliminated to make this walk in closet.
Taped and mudded patch area.

Drywall Patching - Repairing Old Walls

Most beginning remodeling projects usually involve removing walls and building new ones. There areas that need patching. Below are some of the more common details.
The upper left of this photo shows where we removed a wall. I mentioned before about using your utility knife to cut into the corners where you are removing walls, to minimize the repairs necessary. If you look at the upper left, I deliberately did not cut the corner on the left corner for about a foot, and you can see the tearout that results. This area will need skimming at some point, and is extra work.
Ceiling area where old wall was removed

Patching these is a simple process with small rips of drywall. (Note: depending on your area, most often your interior walls have 1/2” drywall. Exterior walls and ceilings in most parts of the country have 5/8” drywall. You will want to check.)
Also see how much cleaner the repair area is when you cut into the corners before demolition. This job has texture on the walls that will be matched later. I use mesh tape for these flat areas and paper tape for inside corners.
Because this is a relatively narrow area, using an 8” knife will allow you to mud all your tape at one time.
Here is a detail showing drywall patching on a wall.

Here is a wall section with the patches applied and taped. The left side of this photo shows a tapeless patch, that we added because of moving an outlet and needing access for the romex run. I also ran paper tape to reestablish the inside corner.
Here is a tapeless drywall patch on a wall .

This is where the old closet header was attached to the wall. I used a ‘tapeless’ patch here.

The Walk In Closet Project – Episode 5

The Walk In Closet Project is moving along…..
Sound Control
Adding sound control on the north wall which is the party wall for the guest bathroom is installed with 1” styrofoam glued and screwed to the wall. This is in response to the noise of plastic plumbing in the wet wall and the lack of insulation and shimming of the pipe during the original construction.

Note: Plastic Pipe used for waste drain and vent, will rattle if not secured. It is annoying more than anything else, and only takes a few moments to secure and insulate during construction.

In adding depth to the wall, it is important to remember to use extenders on the outlet and switch boxes, to provide secure electrical connections and reduce the risk of fire or damage. You will also need longer screws to penetrate the wall, foam, wall assembly to secure the new drywall. In this case we are using 2 1/2” screws as we have a 1/2” of original drywall, 1” of new foam, and 1/2” of new drywall. You will also need longer screws for your electric boxes.

New drywall
We have drywalled our foam wall as well as framing and drywalling the old doorway. One of the last minute changes we made was to frame an opening in the old doorway, so the client who does stained glass can build a panel to provide some more natural light in this hallway. If you look at the photo above and this one you can see where we framed out opening in, and then decided to make it longer.
We are using paper tape for the new work, and mesh tape for the transition between the new drywall and the existing drywall, which has a heavy knockdown texture. I am using a lot of speed set on this job as there are elevation issues on the floors and walls. It works much better for the sort of fill in, as you can mix it much thicker than premixed mud and you can do multiple coats in a single day which saves time.

Mirror, Mirror on the Wall…
We wanted to save the mirrors we removed from the south wall. I called my glass guy, and we were successful in re cutting and remounting the mirrors in various locations.
The mirror sizing and spacing were dictated by the outlet on the left side of the window and the closet rough opening number. We will be using 24” door blanks as partitions and shelving materials. Cost effective and low impact. More on that in a few days.
Mirror, Mirror in the Hall
We put the other mirror in the hallway. This decision is what led to re routing the air conditioning ducts and return air, which was on the bottom of that wall. It also allowed us to eliminate the soffit in the bedroom and in the guest bath. Plus removing the return air plenum in the new closet, shortening the wing wall in the closet, gaining more efficiency for the ac system, moving the scuttle, and adding drama to the hall.
The hall appears to be about 90 miles long….
I’m off to mud more…

CFL Compact Fluorescent Lights

Compact Fluorescent Lights are the new darling of the eco green set. With good reason for using less electricity.
Lighter Footstep has a couple of good guides on CFL’s.
How to live with CFLs
This is a good overview of the lights, especially in sizing them as standard fbulbs and CFL bulbs radiate their light differently.

Lasting 3-5 years gives you time to do other things. The down side is that CFL’s contain mercury, which is sort of the aw shit, which wipes out the attaboy of using them.
5 Ways to Recycle a CFL

Guest Bath Soffit Adventures 1

Next to the walk in closet is the guest bath. The client doesn’t like soffits much. So…. we are killing them.
This was one of those last minute things that took place as the tinmen were getting ready to unload material and move the ducting in the attic. On the right side is the wall for the small hall closet, and the side of the sink. I guess they thought is was a good idea to put a soffit here, despite the fact that it required extra labor and materials from the framers, the tinmen, and the finish crew.

Surprise, Surprise, Surprise

Enough about designers and their ideas of cool, what really chaps my ass is this romex flopping in the breeze. This is plain laziness. By code this is to be stapled down or run through the studs. Why? So the damn drywallers do not short circuit your electricity by spiking the wire when they hang drywall. The inspector should have caught this during the electric rough in inspection. But hey, he didn’t say anything about the return nonsense in the old closet.

So to solve this problem, we chisel out a channel to run the wire and cover it with a nail plate. This is one of those construction items you should never need, but it is nice to know that they make them.

Having fixed the wire, I hang and tape the drywall. On the right is the new outside corner which as a short length of cornerbead behind the mud to straighten the vertical corner.

While we are in here, the soffit over the tub is history. I bagged the walls, which are tiled, and over the sink and toilet, so that there is little mess to clean up. But wait! What is that white thing in the middle of the soffit?

It’s the damn alarm wire. The alarm guy installed the wire and sensor after the house was finished, so he gets a pass, as this is the only way he was able to fish his wire. There is no space for anybody over three feet tall to get a tool in this space as this is an outside wall and there is no room to practically drill this wire into the wall.

So we add alarm wire to the list of things to pickup.

The Walk In Closet Project - Episode 4

Now that the tin men are done, we installed a new 36” pocket door, sheetrocked the closet side and are ready to finish the drywall on the bedroom side.

The sheetrock hanging is done, and screwed off. (Note: We used 1” screws on the pocket door frame so the screws will not interfere with the operation of the door) I choose to screw the drywall just because it is a better fastening method and in the case of the pocket door frame, nailing would just bounce off the frame.

On the bedroom door side, with the soffit removed and the ducting cut back,they have gained 20 square feet more room in the bedroom.
Taping will use both paper and mesh tape. Paper tape will be used on the seams and inside corners of the new drywall, and mesh tape will be used on the transitions between the new drywall and the existing construction.

I have also used blue painters tape to cover the trim over the bedroom door and the new pocket door frame. This allows me to build up the mud coats to get the walls flat, and not spend extra time having to scrape and chip mud off the trim later.

The pocket door side has its first coat of tape and mud. I used speed set here for mudding as there are some elevation differences and gaps that would take extra time to dry with regular mud, In the case of gaps and elevations, regular mud shrinks back and cracks, requiring much more time to finish.

The bedroom door side is taped and will require using smaller knives to tape as the ductwork protrudes from the wall just a little bit, and using a large knife will just fill up the duct, and smear mud on the trim and floor.

This is one of the areas that we will be remodeling. The closet being finished, so that clothing that is scattered in different closets around the casa can be consolidated, will allow us to work on the master bath which will be getting an extensive makeover. Today we will be going out and looking at different storage solutions.

Some remodeling has plans down to the millimeter, some projects morph as conditions change and are seat of the pants deals. I like these projects as I love the challenge of thinking on my feet and adapting ideas as projects progress. New construction is boring. But that’s just me.

The Walk In Closet Project – Episode 3

I mentioned in the last episode that we were removing the bedroom closet wall to eliminate the soffit over the door and make the room bigger. Here is that wall.
The Bedroom Wall

The desire to just blast away with hammers and bars to get it all done at once, must be resisted. It doesn’t matter if it is your house, a friends house or a clients. A measured plan will help you control the mess and allow you to minimize surprises. And there will be.
The Backside
Here we have removed the drywall from the backside of the bedroom wall. We now know where the electric runs are and can plan our new runs as well as moving various control panels into the hallway. We also know how the wall is attached and anchored, so that we can remove it, with the smallest mess. This is why we have left the bedroom wall for last. It minimizes dirt and dust into the living areas.

New Wall
We installed some 1/2” plywood and a stud on the left side corner assembly. On the right side I used a 10′ steel stud track to establish my plumb and to provide anchoring for the wall. I anchored it at the top and bottom as well as gluing it to the wall and running drywall screws into the inside corners to hold it in place for the glue to set. PowerGrab does the job.
It has a wide header for the 36” pocket door that will be installed.

Bedwall Demo Right
Ed got the electric rerouted, so now we can take down the bedroom wall. Starting with the soffit and working across. You can see the ductwork that will be cut back, and a rough idea of the patching that will be required.

Bedwall Demo Left
The wall is gone and you can see where we have patched the walls and ceilings with small strips of drywall.

We will use Mesh tape and Speedset to fill in the gaps.

The Walk In Closet Project – Episode 2

In the last Episode we looked at the area where we will be expanding the closet. The majority of work will be centered around combining the two closet areas into the new closet.
Pre Removal Inspection
This is the party closet wall that held the cabinets. Now that the cabs have been removed, the owner did a little demo to inspect the inside of the walls. On the left is the romex that supplied that wall with power.

[Tech Tip] When removing old sheetrock walls, take your utility knife and cut along the inside corners of the walls that will be removed. This makes removal easier, and minimizes damage to adjacent surfaces. By cutting deep enough to cut through the tape, you will have a much cleaner job.

Open Wall

Here is the closet with that wall removed. Notice on the left that the paper has ripped from the drywall, because of not scoring around the boards that were used for shelf brackets. I did this purposely to illustrate the wisdom of scoring the inside corners before removing the drywall. On the left of the door are globs of mirror mastic that attached a mirror to the wall.

In this case the studs that formed the walls are 25 years old. In Arizona these have dried out. To the point where reuse is not an option. The lumber is brittle and will cause more trouble than it is worth. This is fireplace kindling now.

Next steps

Our short wall is open and we can examine our next steps. On the left is the built up corner from the wall we have just removed. On the right is the built up corner from the bedroom wall to the corner wall of the closet. We will be removing the right most stud from this as we are removing the wall. This decision is driven by the need to remove the soffit over the bedroom door and making the wall flat from one side to the other.

We will be moving the alarm, phone, electric and cable wiring around. We will also be closing off the existing attic scuttle hole and relocating it into the new closet.

surprise surprise surprise
On the top of the photo you can see where the return for the HVAC unit is. The square on the ceiling formed the plenum for the return air, and the filter assembly is mounted in the bottom of the hallway wall. One of the things the client wants is to reuse the mirrors. Part of that is to mount one of them in the hallway on the end wall.
I have mentioned that remodeling is biblical in nature by the way one thing begats another. Here is that in action:-)

Since we decided to move the return into the ceiling of the hallway, we need to figure out what needs to be done. A quick inspection revealed that the trunk line for the HVAC runs the length of the hallway ceiling.
(Because I know nothing about AC beyond basics, we called the AC guy. Always get help for areas you are not familiar with. It may cost a little more in front, and set your project back, but on the back side you will have a much better project)
Calling the AC guy brought Bill the Tin Man over and we examined what we had and what we wanted to accomplish. We determined that the trunk line will be shortened, giving us room for mounting the grille in the ceiling and rerouting the supply and return lines.
This will set us back a day with the tin men crawling around doing their thing. That’s okay, as it will take a few days for them to arrive and we have other things to do.

The Walk In Closet Project – Episode 1

The hanger, the hook, and the closet.

Clothes closets have always been the redheaded stepchild of home design and construction. They get shoved into the corners, siamesed between bedrooms, given crappy rods, inadequate shelving and access, provided with headers for revolting door schemes like bifold, accordian, and slide by doors. Because of this, getting to the storage above the closet rod is another one of those deals where you wish you could put the designer into them for about 6 months until either they repent, or they pursue a career in food service.

Typical clothes hangers are 16” wide. Which is why so many closets have the rod at 10” off the backwall. Somebody decided that 20” was enough room for a depth for hanging clothing. This also allows for a 10” shelf above the closet rod only about an 1 1/2 – 2” below the shelf. This makes getting clothes off and the rod a bit of a pain.

Not all of your clothes, are 6 feet tall, nor do they weigh mere ounces. You can do better.
[end rant]

The client decided that she no longer needs 5 bedrooms as the kids are gone. But she does want more closet space. To this end we are going to turn the bedroom next to the master bedroom into a walk in closet. We will be removing the current closet in the master bedroom, removing the soffit over the doors in the master bedroom, removing the current closet wall, which will result in a larger bedroom, reframing and installing a 36” pocket door for access from the master bedroom, removing the back wall between the the two rooms eliminating the closet in the next room and turning the room into a big walk in closet.
These photos were taken on 7 september, 2007 and show what I started with.
The Murphy Bed occupies the west wall. It is leaving and will find it’s new home in one of the other bedrooms. The bookshelf and corner unit will be reused.
This wall will get floor to ceiling shelving and closet rod units from wall to wall.

Moving counterclockwise is the west wall containing a nice sized window to provide natural lighting.
Next is the other side of the west wall where it joins the south wall.
The only change in this area maybe a different window treatment.

The South wall has floor to ceiling mirrors which will be removed. One of them we hope to salvage and cut down for use in the hallway. Hope is the operative word as mirror mastic has a holding strength of 800 lbs per inch, which is great for attachment, but is a real challenge in removal without wrecking the mirror backing.
Once these are removed, the wall patched, and the final design decided upon, this wall will contain floor to ceiling dividers. The dividers will be 24” deep with the closet rods centered at 12”.

The east wall is where the current closet was. As you can see there is a small office area here.
We will be removing this and reusing the uppers and the lowers and deck in the new closet. This is also the party wall between the master bedroom and this room. As part of this project we will eliminate the bedroom door from the hallway.
This seems to be a straightforward project. Wack a couple of walls, patch and prep, and boogie into the sunset…

Not quite so fast. The office area closet is 2′ shorter than the master closet. The reason for this is there is a return air plenum behind this wall with the filter sitting on the bottom of the hallway wall.

Remember this is the wall we are going to reuse one of the mirrors from the south wall. So in order to make that happen, we are going to move the return duct and grill into the ceiling in the hallway. To do this we needed to move the alarm, smoke and motion detectors, and cut a hole in the ceiling.

The first Problem showed up here. This is the top of the plenum in the closet.
Notice that 15% of the air return is blocked. This was done during the original construction and nobody cared to pay attention. The heating contractor couldn’t hit the center of this hole for some reason, despite having the entire framework of the house open to him, the inspector missed it, the job super missed it, the drywallers ignored it, and so here we are.

This adds a burden to the AC unit that resulted in the replacement of the unit recently. The original plan of moving this to the hall ceiling came to a halt as soon as we went into the attic above the hallway and discovered that the trunk line came all the way to the the end of the hallway.

We called and had Bill the Tinman stop by. After looking at the situation, and providing us with the 15% figure, was also able to come up with a solution that would allow us to put the vent in the ceiling.

It involves extra expense on the front end, by cutting the trunk line back, and using flex for the supply registers in the master bedroom where we are removing the soffit, which was only there as a holder for the duct and as a line for the wall for the old master bedroom closet. According to Bill, this will not only address our immediate issues, but will actually provide a net gain in the efficiency of the air system as well as getting the return air plenum into the ceiling which will allow for the better distribution of the air.
This is one of those gotcha’s that happen in remodeling, that in the short term do add to the time and cost of a project, but in the long term pays for itself.

I have more photos of the next episodes that I will post soon, but I am on my way to pick up my buddy Carl the glass guy to get the mirrors off the wall.

murphy bed

Murphy Beds are one of those weird space saving devices that have come gone and come again.
This is a modern rendition of a Murphy Bed.

This is part of the closet project.