Fitting a New Ceiling

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Gypsum board for ceilings comes in two thicknesses: 3/sin and 1/2in, the former being suitable for use where the joist spacing is no more than l8in and the latter where the joists are up to 2ft apart. The standard sheet sizes are 8 and 10 x 4ft. You may find the smaller sheets easier to handle and you can cut them in half to make them even more manageable. The edges should meet on the joist centerlines, so you will probably have to trim them slightly anyway.

The first job is to nail lengths of 2in sq or 2 x Sin wood along the walls parallel with the joists so that its lower edge is level with the undersides of the joists. Then fit more short lengths of wood to the walls between the ends of the joists to provide support for the edges of the boards.

The sheets of gypsum board must be fitted with their long edges at right-angles to the joists. Toe-nail more lengths of batten to act as bracing between the joists so that the inner edges of the sheets will fall on their center lines. A length of batten marked with the board width will help position them accurately.

Finally, mark the position of each joist on the walls as a guide for nailing the sheets in place.

To cut sheets to size, use a utility knife and steel straightedge. Cut down through one face of the board, snap back the waste against a batten and run the knife blade down the crease from the other side.

If you intend plastering the ceiling, fit the gypsum- board gray side down. For painting or papering directly over the top, leave the ivory side showing.

Holding large sheets of board against the ceiling for nailing can be difficult so nail lengths of 2 x lin batten together to foiiu T-shaped props with which a helper can support it while being nailed in place.

Nail the first board in place, working from the center outwards and spacing the nails at 6in intervals. Drive them home so that they just dimple the surface; to be filled later. Use 11/4in gypsum board nails for thinner sheets and 11/2in for thicker kinds.

Continue in this way, working across the ceiling. Keep any cut edges up against the wall, but if this is not possible make sure they meet on a joist with a slight gap in between for filling; stagger the joints.

When you have clad the entire ceiling, seal the joints between the sheets and, if you prefer, apply a thin skim coat of plaster.

Relaying Floor Boards

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Buy boards at least two weeks before starting work and stack them in the room in which they will be laid. This will allow them to dry out properly, preventing shrinkage later. Ideally, choose tongued-and-grooved boards (T&G), but if you are just replacing odd boards, square-edged ones would be better. In the latter case, make sure you get the right size: 4in and 6in are common widths and the usual finished thickness is 3/4in. but thicker boards are available.

Removing the old boards

Lift the second board in from the wall. Then use a length of stout wood to lever up the others. Take care along the walls, since the boards are likely to be tucked under the baseboard. Tidy up the joists by pulling out any remaining nails and fitting packing strips if necessary.

Fitting the boards

Fit four or five boards at a time, keeping any end joints between them to a minimum. Where joints cannot be avoided, make sure the boards meet at the center of a joist and that their ends are cut square. Use up offcuts when you can and stagger the end joints so they do not all fall in a line.

Mark and cut the first board to clear any obstructions and fit it up against the wall. Force a chisel blade into the top of the joists and use it to lever the board tight against the wall while you drive two nails through it into each joist. Use cut floor brads at least twice the length of the depth of the board.

If you are using T&G boards, the groove of this first board should face away from the wall and be nearer the joist than the top. Set the next four boards in place and push them tightly together using wooden wedges or floor cramps.

In the former case, nail a length of wood temporarily across the joists and fit pairs of opposing wooden wedges between it and the boards. Tapping the wedges together will force the boards tight up against each other. Floor cramps clamp to the joists and when tightened exert great force against the edges of the board, (you should be able to get them from a good tool rental company).

In both cases, cut short offcuts of floorboard to fit between the edges of the boards and the wedges or cramps to protect the board edges. With the boards cramped tight, nail the outermost one down. Then remove the wedges or cramps and nail the remainder.

Continue in this way across the room. Where there are pipes or cables below the floor that you might want to reach in the future, screw the boards down. Cut off the tongues of T&G boards to make lifting easy.

The final boards

Stop within the width of two boards from the far wall since you will not be able to cramp these last boards. To fit the final boards, first lay a full board up against the last one to be nailed down. Lever it tight up against this board with a chisel. Next, take a short offcut of floorboard and hold it against the base so that its other edge overlaps the full board. Hold a pencil against the edge of the offcut and run it along the full board to mark the profile of the wall on it.

Cut the board along the pencil line and then refit it, but this time along the wall, springing in a full board between it and the others at the same time. Nail both boards down.

Renewing Floor Joists

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

You may find that a problem floor is simply due to one or two joists having become twisted and this can be cured by toe-nailing tight fitting wooden struts between them. However, if the wood is being eaten away by insects or rot, you will have no option but to replace every affected piece.

Lever up a sufficient number of floorboards to get at the affected joists, using a claw-headed hammer with a wooden batten to help leverage. Pull out all the nails and stack the boards so that you can replace them in the same order.

If only a small section of a joist is damaged, the affected area can easily be sawn out and replaced. However, for safety, make sure that the cuts are at least 24in beyond the damage.

Removal of a complete joist will mean levering it from its wall plates at each end, and also any intermediate wall plates. If the ends are set in sockets in the wall, cut through the joist just short of the wall and pull the stubs out. Brick up the sockets, cementing metal hangers into the top joints.

If only a section of joist has been removed, cut a new piece of joist to the same size plus extra wood so that it will overlap the ends by at least 18in. Bolt this to the old joist with two carriage bolts at each end.

If a complete joist is to be fitted, trim back its ends to a taper so that there is no chance of it touching the external walls. Toe-nail the joist to its wall-plates.

If the wall plates themselves are affected, replace them at the same time, simply laying them on top of the sleeper walls. Make sure you prevent contact with the masonry by laying a strip of flexible flashing along the wall first. It is recommended that pressure treated lumber be used for replacement sections.

Something to watch out for are pipe and cable runs below the floor. Pipes are usually set in shallow-cut notches in the tops of the joists and cables pass through holes drilled in them.

Always remove the fuse, or flip the circuit breaker, controlling any underfloor electrical circuit before work begins. Cut the cable out of the old joist by making two saw cuts down to the hole. Make similar cuts in the new joist and glue the offcut back for added protection. Alternatively, disconnect the cable from the nearest fitting and thread it through the holes.

Building a Stud Partition

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The easiest form of partition to build is the wood frame variety — it is ideal for dividing one bedroom into two, making an extra powder room or bathroom, or splitting a dining area from a kitchen or living room. The wood frame is simply nailed together and faced with drywall on each side; it is easily adapted for doorways, pass through or windows. Being essentially hollow, it can also be used to conceal electrical wiring and water pipes.

The framework comprises a number of uprights called “studs” fitted between lengths of wood spanning the width of the ceiling and floor. These are called the “head plate” and “sole plate” respectively. Short horizontal lengths of wood are fixed between the uprights to brace them and support the cladding. In most cases 2 x 3in rough sawn softwood is ideal for the studs and bracing, with 11/2 x 3in for the head and sole plates. If the partition is to carry a lot of weight such as shelves or cupboards, a larger size should be used, say 2 x 4in.

Planning the partition

Deciding where to put the partition is the first thing to do so that you end up with two usable rooms. If possible arrange things so that each new room gets the benefit of a window, but do not be tempted to set the partition so that it divides a window in two. Not only does this look dreadful, but in some cases it is also illegal. If you cannot provide a window for each room, glaze the upper portion of the partition so that you can “borrow” some natural light from the room with the window. Similarly, if you cannot provide an opening window for each new room, you will be required to install a form of mechanical ventilation.

Important considerations are the layouts of floor and ceiling joists since the head and sole plates will be attached to these. Ideally, the partition should run at right angles to the joists so that its weight is spread across them. If this is not possible, it must be directly above a joist. With a solid floor, there is no problem.

If the head plate does not span the ceiling joists and does not come below a single joist because the ceiling joists do not line up with the floor joists, you should nail lengths of 2in sq blocking between the ceiling joists and attach the head plate to these.

Before you begin work, check under the floor and above the ceiling for any cables or pipes that might be damaged by nails or screws. It is also a good idea to check with your local Building Code before carrying out any structural work.

Erecting the framework by cutting the head and sole plates to length; whenever possible buy wood long enough so that you can span the room with one piece. Nail the sole plate to the joists through the floorboards using 4in long common nails or fix it to a concrete floor with 4in long No.10 woodscrews and wall plugs or with masonry anchors or masonry nails. Screw the head plate to the ceiling joists.

Cut the studs for each end of the partition, leaving them a fraction over-length so that they will be a tight fit between the head and sole plates, and screw them to the wall. Use 4in long No.10 screw and wall plugs.

Then mark off the positions of the other studs along the sole plate, making sure their centers are 16in or no more than 24in apart. They should be positioned so that the edges of the cladding material will meet along their center lines (standard sheets of drywall are 4ft wide). If the partition is to have a door in it, the stud positions on each side of the opening must be adjusted to allow for the door width and the thickness of the lining.

Measure and cut each stud individually as there is no guarantee that head and sole plates will be parallel.

Set each stud in place, making sure it is vertical with a spirit level, and fix it by driving 3 or 4in common nails at an angle through the side of the stud into the head and sole plate (known as toe-nails).