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My name is Lisa and I'm a crafty girl with wanderlust working as an engineer by day. My blog chronicles projects in my home as well as pictures and stories from my travels.

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Entries in Laundry Room (3)

Wednesday
Nov062013

Behind the Walls: Insulation, Fireblocking and More

Before I was able to pass my building rough inspection for my laundry room and bathroom renovation I had to have everything up to code inside the walls. I hired out the plumbing, electrical and HVAC duct work to contractors but I pulled the building permit myself so that was all on me. 

I started with the insulation in the bathroom ceiling. When dealing with insulation I always wear work gloves to protect my hands from irritation. To cut an insulation batt place it vapor barrier side down on some scrap plywood or other surface you don't care about and cut with a utility knife against a straight edge.

My local box store only stocks 15" wide insulation batts but my ceiling joists were 24" on center. To solve the issue I cut the insulation into 26" strips and removed about 2" of insulation on each end to create tabs that I could staple to the ceiling joists. This was a bit tedious but it did the job for the small area I needed to insulate and beat trying to search around to find wider batts or tacking up furring strips until I put up the ceiling drywall.

The paper backing that acts as a vapor barrier on the batt is flammable so in any areas where it will not be directly touching drywall you need to remove the paper. Since I wasn't positive it would fully contact where it went over the walls into the adjacent rooms I pulled off the paper on those pieces just to be on the safe side. All in all it took me a little over a half hour to get the insulation up.

Next I had to make sure I had proper fireblocking in place which prevents movement of flame, smoke, gases through concealed spaces. When I remodeled the the main part of my house the way those walls had been originally framed meant that I had to add 2x4 lumber between all of the studs to isolate the first floor from the second.  Here I didn't need to deal with that which was nice. 

All of the openings through the floor around the wiring, pipes and ducts had to be sealed with an appoved fireblock material like a fire rated caulk or foam. This was done by my contractors as part of getting their rough approval, but I always like to check things over myself as well.

The caulks and foam are typically red or orange in color so that they are easily identifiable.  My electrician used caulk around all of the wires and the opening around the duct into the bathroom was sealed with foam by my HVAC contractor.

Next up was the dryer vent chase. The original plan had been to have the dryer vent go under the crawl space and out to the back of the house but it turned out that the foundation was so thick that it wasn't practical. The only solution was to go up and out the roof which meant that I then needed to frame out a chase around it.

I didn't take any pictures building the chase because it was the night before my building inspection and it didn't go quite as planned making me super frustrated. Long story short I built the front on the ground to make sure it was square. I then raised it in place adjusting the bottom plate until it was square to the adjacent wall and then secured it to the subflooring. I then had Frank help me to adjust it to be plumb using my four foot level and then screw it into the studs of the adjacent wall. This was easiest as a two person job with one person holding everything in place and keeping and eye on the level and the other person doing the attaching. Once the front was installed I built the side in place and added some cross pieces so that I could secure it to the back wall. 

Typical materials for fireblocking are 2-by lumber, 3/4-inch structural panels and 1/2-inch drywall but with the awkward cutouts needed to go around the dryer vent and plumbing vent stack those options didn't seem the best for the chase. Instead I used unfaced (vapor barrier removed) insulation which was easier to install. Building code specifies that 16" of secured unfaced insulation can serve as a fireblock but to be on the safe side I was closer to 20". 

On a side note, on the picture above on the left you can see an electrical outlet that I found buried in the wall. Later my electrician found a two way switch that turned off the existing lights in the room buried behind one of the cabinets. Electrical code specifies that all junction boxes must be accessible so this was a big problem. If that buried switch had failed I would have had no lights in the room and would have had a hard time figuring out why. Thankfully all of that bad wiring has now been fixed and is up to code.

While I am at it I thought I would point out a few other key items lurking behind the walls that my contractors have done. At every location where wiring or plumbing runs through a stud a steel stud guard plate was hammered into the stud. This is done to protect screws and nails from piercing the wiring and plumbing saving me from a potential electrical problem or leak.

It is also very important that all of the plumbing, wiring and ductwork is well secured. Below are examples of a strap anchoring wiring in my bathroom to a stud and the PEX supply lines for my sink being secured with clamps. 

After inspectors for each of the trades had come out and gave their rough approval I had the building inspector come to the house. He said that everything looked great and okayed me to close up the walls. It was such a good feeling to get the green tag with his signature for the building rough approval. Now that I am done with traveling for a little bit I am hoping I can get some traction to start knocking things out again. 

Disclaimer: I am not a licenced contractor. What I have done in my home meets the building code used by my city but building codes can vary by state and municipality so please do your own research to confirm the building code that would apply to you.

Wednesday
May292013

Mudding in the Laundry Room

Over the holiday weekend I made some progress in my laundry room. I last shared a picture of the room where it looked like this:  

The previous owners had redone this area of the home at some point and it had been a crazy warren of cabinets. Also, they hadn't left enough room to properly turn the corner and go out the back door. The little wall that the cabinets were on was not load bearing so I had previously decided to shorten the wall back the the next stud. This meant that now I needed to drywall the raw edge of the wall. Below is a picture of the laundry room from when I first bought my home showing the strange layout.

Let me preface this by saying that I am by no means an expert at taping and mudding, but if I can do this anyone can. First, I evened up the raw edges of the end of my exposed drywall with my rotozip since I had made a bit of a mess with my sawzall when I first cut back the wall. Next, I cut a piece of drywall to size and attached it to the end of the stud with drywall screws. I also secured the ends of the existing drywall to the stud since it was not well attached. Using a drywall screw setter when driving in the screws makes a little dimple in the drywall so that the screw head is set below the surface of the drywall so that you can cover it with mud later.

Instead of using traditional metal corner bead I like to use paper-faced corner bead. I think it is easier to install since you don't need to nail it in place. You simply apply drywall compound along both sides of the corner and then press the paper-faced corner bead into the mud with the metal side facing in. For a good result, you need to make sure that the corner bead is firmly set in mud along the whole corner on both sides. Any excess drywall compound that has squeezed out when you embedded the corner bead you can clean up by running a putty knife along the tape which also helps make sure it is firmly secured. Once it is dried, you apply another layer of drywall compound over it, sand it smooth once it is dry and repeat again.

As I said before, my mudding skills leave a little to be desired, but I can make up for it with my sanding. To get my corner perfect I had to do three rounds of mudding and sanding, but it was worth it in the end.

With everything finished up my wall now looked like this:

I didn't patch the ceiling spot where I had cut back the top plate because the drywall I had was too thick and I figure I will repair and paint the ceiling all at one time when I swap out the fluorescent lights.

I primed the whole area and then gave the wall a light sanding once the primer was dry. When you prime the walls, you'll notice that the area that has been mudded is really smooth, but the area with raw drywall can have some fuzzy texture. Sanding the primed walls knocks down the fuzz and ensures a smooth finish. 

I then finally put on two coats of a pale green paint and the corner is ready for me to reinstall the base cabinets.

I've still got a long way to go but progress feels good! I'm getting excited as the room is starting to come together...

Monday
Apr292013

Laundry Room in Progress

When I moved into my house in September of 2007 the only thing that had been updated in the house was the addition of a crazy warren of cabinets in the laundry room/back entry. There was a full kitchen's worth of cabinets crammed into the small space. I had other things to worry about, however, like evicting the racoons in the walls and getting electricty upstairs so I painted the cream walls green and left it alone for several years.

I finally got around to working on things removing the crazy waste of space cabinets and replacing the flooring in the back entry area over my Christmas break three years ago. Then last fall I taped and mudded the drywall, added beadboard to the back wall and built a storage shelf. I still need to build a shoe storage bench in that area, replace the light fixture, add trim to the window and get everything painted, but I think it will definitely be a better use of the space than before. Here is a then and now:

Back up in the laundry area I decided to keep most of the cabinets. They were not my style with the 1980s oak look, but they were in okay condition and provided some nice storage. Here is how the area looked in early 2008 after I had painted the walls but done nothing else.

I did decide that even thought I was keeping the cabinets I wanted to paint them white to match my cabinets in the adjoining kitchen. I also used oil rubbed bronze spray paint to paint the hinges and added knobs to match my kitchen knobs.

When I decided to replace the flooring I discovered that the area was built up on a second elevated floor to lift the area level to the kitchen. There was almost no headroom in the laundry room so I decided to remove the elevated floor and bring it back down to the original floor. This means that I have some exposed drywall that is in very rough shape that I need to finish now. I taped and mudded it and now I need to sand it down, repeat, prime and paint. Here is where I am at right now in the process.

I have a long way to go but I am excited to get back to working on this area of the house. Because the upper cabinets will now be a bit high over the lower cabinets due to removing the elevated floor I plan to hang a rod from them to hang clothes. I also plan to add crown molding to the tops of the cabinets plus a few other things which I think will be fun. I can't wait!