Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lesson 3. If they can do it, so can I: How I Built a Wall

 I have always strived to be able to do things for myself. When I want to do something, I want to do it right then and I don't want anything to stand in my way, even if that thing is not knowing how to do the thing I want to do. So needless to say I have picked up a lot of random skills over the years. But the idea of actually building (nails, wood, saws - eeek!!!) has always intimidated me. After learning to cut crown molding and becoming comfortable with using the electric saw (and ladies, if there is a girl-friendly saw out there, it's definitely the miter saw) I finally decided that it might be time for me to face my fears with a small construction project that I have been tossing around the windmills of my mind for a few weeks now.

Floorplan of living and dining rooms

This is how it all began. When I started this project, all I wanted to do was add some simple wall frames in our living room.

Wall frames in the living room. I chose a simplified style and just did one frame sized to fit 13" in from the outer parameters of the wall space.
This turned out to be a problem, however, because our living room and dining room are set up as semi-separate rooms, which drives me nuts because, among other things, you end up having to paint them both the same color because there is no real dividing wall. But in this case, the problem was that there was no way to put frames on the common wall because there is no stopping point between the two rooms. So we had a frameless wall which looked funny. On top of that, I really wanted to try to put in some waist high wainscot paneling to dress up the dining room, but once again, because the common wall had no inter-room divider, there was no point at which you could stop the paneling. So one day our handy man was over fixing a window and I asked him what it would take to build a tiny little dividing wall between the two rooms. He told me, "Hmm... a few 2x4's and some drywall. I bet you could do it yourself, Juliet." I didn't really take him seriously at first, but somehow later that afternoon my car just sort of mysteriously started steering its way over to Lowe's and the next thing I knew I was loading 4 8" long 2x4's and a sheet of drywall cut into fourths into the the back of my coupe.  I could not exist without my fabulous fold-down seats. Thank you, German engineering.

Plan to add the new dividing wall

So, as instructed, I plotted the place on the wall where I wanted my new wall to go. I measured and decided it needed to be 6" thick and 25" wide to match the other wall segment. I took the 2x4's and basically made what looked like a ladder 24" wide and almost as tall as the ceiling. Using the stud finder, I figured out where the studs were in the wall and used long screws to attach the frame to the wall. Then I took my drywall sheets (conveniently already 24" wide from being split at Lowe's to fit in my car) and screwed them onto the frame. Some of them had to be cut more, but it was  really very easy. All you do is get a knife and a straight edge and make a little score, then you can fold it and it breaks clean. Cut the backing paper on the other side and you're ready to go.

Half constructed wall. What a mess.

Once I had all the drywall on, I filled the seams with drywall putty and sanded. Then I replaced the crown molding and baseboard sections and painted the whole thing. Viola! I made a wall!!! Can you believe it? And now we have 2 rooms - not just a uniroom!

Picture of the new separating wall looking from the living room into the dining room. The other wall segment is just peeking out at the upper right edge of the photo.  The dining room wainscoting has already been installed in this picture, but I actually put it in right after the wall was completed. Details on that in my next post!!!

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