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September 2021
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Lightyear Sunken Bath Episode 4 – Adventures in Steel Studs

The primary goal in this bathroom remodel was to replace the ‘locker room from hell shower/bath’¬† into the sybaritic pleasure of a jacuzzi tub. Getting there from here is what makes remodeling fun. Some folks collect things, some folks drink, I remodel.

We decided to install a water heater to furnish hot water to this end of the house. In Episode 1, I mentioned that the original water heater is 80 feet away from this bathroom. The electricity is even further away, but this is a framing episode.

Off the bathroom is a little storage shed created by extending a privacy wall and roofing it. Until recently it was a shelter for the dogs during storms.

Well, the dogs are not that big, and we can put the water heater out here, move the door and add some sorely needed storage space. So we will put up some walls and a ceiling.


Steel studs are my material of choice here. I am using 1 5/8” studs and track. (the blue and orange stores only carry 2 1/2 and 3 1/2” studs and track. You need a drywall supply store to find these. These are non load bearing walls which is why we are using lite gauge (26)studs. I am using these to get the maximum space and to overcome some of the framing challenges.

I could have used 1” ‘hat channel’ vertically, which is another type of steel material, but the size saving, extra work and details made it not worth it. (think shooting yourself in the foot or framing challenges.)

The floor is sloped for water runoff when it was a privacy wall, the block walls are not plumb or square, and they are covered with stucco. The ceiling was framed off the original eave line, and the strangest joist hangers were used.

First up is to frame the doorway.


I probably glossed over how short the ceiling was. Establishing square was interesting as nothing was. Once I had the doorway framed up, I proceeded to frame up the short wall on the left. I insulated the ceiling and short pony walls before drywalling this wall.


I then did the back wall framing so that I had a line for installing the new ceiling. The nice thing about doing this is that you can build a solid straight wall quickly.

Once I had that accomplished, I could establish a line for covering up the low hanging joist hangers as well as creating a line for the soffit needed to carry the electricity and maybe a light or two. Now I will be framing up the door wall on the right, but not until after the plumber and electrician have their way with us.

Drywall Fun – Coffered Ceilings

Ceilings are one of the most overlooked elements in your houses. Flat, boring and in a lot of cases in newer houses, a gigantic space to toss your money away. In reality anything over 7' is heating and cooling space you will never use, unless you have a trampoline or a really really high and bouncy bed.

One way to add a bit of drama and keep your energy bills reasonable to build a coffered ceiling.
Here is a coffered ceiling I built in my old house. This has four levels. The ceiling where the lights are is 8' off the floor. The lowest level is 7' off the floor. This is constructed entirely out of steel studs and drywall.
The steps are 12'' wide and 4'' tall.

This can be added to an existing ceiling by constructing the steps in series. It is a lot of work, but the results justify the time. If you can hang and tape drywall, you can do this.

This is a view of the ceiling partially framed in. This ceiling looks a little unusual as I built it inside a vaulted ceilinged room. But you get the idea. I suggest steel studs as they are lightweight, straight and easy to work with. You can also get them in lengths up to 20'.

Having constructed your coffers or steps you want to tape the inside corners before install ing the corner bead. Which you will need a lot of.

After your inside corners, are taped and your corner bead is installed, tape one side of the outside corners at a time. This will give you the space and time to sand your work straight and smooth.

 A lot of work, but the results are worth it.

Siding by One

In assembling the Artroom Expansion we are using¬† vertical 4×8′ siding panels.

The key to getting a good paneling job is having a fixed point where
you can measure from. In this case we want to have a horizontal line to
match the panel bottoms, and a consistent measuring point.

You want to work smarter not harder. There are any number of ways to apply it with a crew, but when you work alone, it can be difficult. The mission is to make the expansion blend into the original structure. Part of that is to have the siding match. Part of that is to match the bottom.
Here is a photo showing the paneling being applied.

One of the easiest ways to establish a horizontal line is to use steel studs and track. It is straight. lightweight, and can be applied simply and quickly. The photo below shows a piece of track installed onto the slab below the bottom plate of our wood frame.
Siding2Here is a closeup of the track attached to the foundation with a steel stud inside to stiffen it. You now have a fixed plane to measure from as well as a temporary ledge to rest the panel for nailing or screwing’


Just a note here: the blue stuff between the treated base plate and the
concrete slab is sill sealer, which forms a water barrier between the
slab and the wood frame above. It has been amazing how many different
folks from other trades have stopped by and have never seen sill
sealer. Always use sill sealer between concrete and wood.

The tools you will need are a hammer drill, a carbide tipped masonry bit, ‘blue screws’ and a 4′ magnetic level. In my case I am using a Tapcon Condrive tool. This is an 18V Dewalt hammer drill, which is probably one of the more versatile tools you can own.

Start on one end of your slab, and using a level and a clamp or two, drive a screw thru the track into the foundation 4-6” from the end of the track. Using the level, drill and install a screw about every two feet, with one more in the end of the track. Continue this for the length of your wall. Take some steel studs and tap them into place, to form a ledge to measure from and to rest your panel while you are attaching it. Friction will hold the stud into the track.

This makes attaching the panels a breeze as you are not trying to line up, hold and nail at the same time.

This is the Condrive kit with all the toys. If you are building a lot of stuff or attaching things into concrete this is a tool you want to have.

It is very good for attaching cabinet bases to concrete floors as well. Like here in the Walk In Closet Project.

Here is one wall done and and the track setup for the next wall. The paneling is straight, and goes up easy. The bottom edge looks a little ragged, but that is just the photograph. There are little bits of caulk that have squeezed out, as I ran a bead of caulk at the base of the wall before I attached the panels.


When you are done you have a few small holes to fill in, but the time you save in installing the panels makes it worth it. Plus you can reuse the track and studs on other projects. Alas, the blue screws will be a loss however.

It’s a dry heat. Tales of the Anti-Destination League.

Phoenix had it’s first day over 100 yesterday. This week is looking to go down in the record books in triple digits.

I have mentioned before that remodeling is biblical in nature. One project begats another. Your idea is simple, replace some drywall and install a sink. Removing the drywall points out that the plumbing needs work, fixing the plumbing needs to have some carpentry, which means moving the electric, and so on. You get the idea.

The star player and cosmic trickster in remodeling is the Anti-Destination League. This occult organization is the single largest reason that time and budgets get blown out of the water. The ADL does things like making you have to go to the parts store 10 mins. before they close, and gives you red lights all the way. The material you have been looking for is mysteriously out of stock. The phone rings when you are on the ladder with one foot on the ladder and both hands full. You get the idea. Murphy is an agent of the ADL.

Of course, the Anti-Destination League had other plans. First up was the A/C unit which did not fire up. Good News! It was a thermostat. Second up was taking the herd, Flo the slavering jaws of death, Walnut, and Blackie to the vet for shots. What should have been a couple of hours, turned into an all day marathon of shots and surgeries, and prescriptions. Why the hell can’t they make dog meds liquid?

Moving on…

Having gotten my tax refund back, and having a little breathing space between Projects for Others, I am hoping to work on the casa.
Specifically the movie room. The movie room has been framed up since 2005.

The west wall is where I am mounting my 42” HD TV. The window will be getting a stained glass panel. This is also the room where I am installing a ‘coffered’ ceiling. I am still not sure if I am mounting the TV to the wall or if I will build a popup cabinet to hide the TV that will cover the window when the TV is raised.

The north wall is probably going to be bumped out a couple of feet and the archway made opened up a bit, and the DVD Cases built in to the walls. The other day I designed and built a DVD case. I need at least 2.

I still need to figure out what I am using for a door or drape for this opening. Plus I need to run the speaker wire for the surround sound.

The hall wall will get a pocket door, solving that problem.

Meanwhile I am looking at a solar tube for the kitchen, since putting the workshop on the back, the kitchen is almost as dark as a coal mine.
I am also learning how little space 10′ really is, when you have a table saw and are cutting and ripping 4×8 sheets of plywood.

Fireplace Freshen 1

Fireplace Facelift
This is the before shot. There are few things uglier than painted brick. This is an unusual fireplace as it is not centered in the room by about 5”, and has some pretty awkward windows. The idea of covering or removing the windows was rejected as the light is an important element of this room. This fireplace originally was a wood burner, with an arched opening. The client remodeled it years ago by switching it to natural gas, adding the brick surround, and installing the fireplace door. At the time, this was much more cost effective as the cost of a glass fireplace door custom built with an arched top was at the far side of obscenely expensive. Even more so today, but that is a moot point.

First things first. Removing the hearth and brick around the fireplace. The vertical blinds were bagged as the decision for window treatments had not been made. The floor was covered as the client has more of the floor tile and it was going to be filled in after we got the facelift done.

Construction Note
If you are going to tile and may remodeling in the future, buy extra tile. Patterns, colors, and styles change constantly. Just ask any of the house bloggers who have been looking for plastic tiles or subway tiles for doing restoration.

The floor in front and to the sides is also covered with 5/8” chipboard, which to me is one of the few uses for the stuff. It helps to corral all the busted brick. With the brick removed you can see the original arch of the fireplace. What is not shown is the steel angle used as a header for the brick facing. We are going to reuse if when we square off the opening to support the brick face before we begin the facelift.

Since this is a covering and the fireplace is brick, we are using 1 1/2” steel studs. (Yes they make 2×2 steel studs, but you need to find them at a drywall supply store as the big box home improvement stores only stock 2×3” and 2×4” stel studs and track. We are also leaving a 1” gap between the brick and the face. This eliminates trying to use wood and concrete nails or Blue Screws to try to make the face flat. It also covers the 3/4”dip in the brickwork.

We have extra studs in the wall as the client has some large artwork which will end up on the wall.

Construction Details
The vertical and freestanding valances are finished with Bullnose corner bead to soften the corners. The corners next to the walls and ceiling are finished with ‘L’ bead, as the walls have been recently re-textured and painted. The ceiling had the popcorn removed and a light skimcoat applied.

Valance Detail
The valance area is open for the lights that will be mounted on the backside and area for the fabric panels that will be built to cover the windows.

The yellow mud you see is not bad photography, it is a recently new product from USG called Dust Control taping compound. It comes premixed the color of eggnog, and it is a thicker consistency than other premixed mud. Anything that controls dust during construction and remodeling is good by me. We shall see how it works.

The opening for the fireplace door is wrapped with a concrete board and finished with a quick set mud.
Monday the fireplace door guy will be by to measure for the door.