Blocking Redundant Doorways

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

There are two methods you can use for blocking off a redundant doorway: you can fit a wood framework around the inside and panel it with wallboard on both sides, or you can use bricks or lightweight building blocks if the floor is solid. In each case, plaster is used to finish it off.

Alternatively, consider whether you can put it to some other use such as paneling in the back and filling the recess with shelves.

Removing the old frame

To remove the old door and frame, unscrew the door hinges, lift the door away and lever off the molding. The lining frame may be fixed by masonry nails, screws or metal ties cemented into the brickwork. You should be able to lever it free, but if not, cut through its fixings by working a saw blade between the back of the frame and the wall.

Paneling with wallboard

If you are filling an opening in a stud partition, the supporting framework should be made of wood to match the framework of the partition — usually 2 x 3 or 4in lumber. On the other hand, if paneling a masonry wall, you might need two separate frames of something like 2in sq wood to panel each side flush.

The frame should comprise a head plate, sole plate, two upright studs and a central brace. Toe-nail these together and to the insides of the opening, making sure the frame is set back from the face of the wall to allow for the thickness of the skimmed wallboard.

Nail a panel of wallboard to each side of the frame, and to prevent the skim coat shrinking back from the edges, nail lengths of metal lath around the join. Apply a skim coat of finish and when the plaster has hardened, fit a length of new baseboard across the opening.

To fill the opening with bricks or concrete blocks, you must tie the new masonry to the old. The easiest method is to hammer 6in masonry nails half-way into the side of the opening to correspond with the mortar joints of alternate courses of the new bricks which will eventually be buried in the mortar.

Lay the bricks or blocks in the normal overlapping fashion and point all the mortar joints flush with the face of the masonry when finished.

Finally, apply floating and finish coats of plaster, using the surrounding original plaster as a thickness guide.

Putting a Doorway in stud partitions

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

To put a doorway in a stud partition, first expose the framework below the skin of the partition. Find the stud positions on each side of the proposed opening by tapping the surface and probing with a bradawl. Draw in the stud positions on the surface and another line between them to mark the height of the door frame plus an allowance for the wood lintel.

Cut along this outline with a keyhole saw continuing the cut through the skin across the top of any studs or bracing you come across. Lever off the skin to expose the framework and the back of the other skin. Remove the latter in the same way.

Cut out all the framework within the opening and then make up two short “trimmer” studs to support the lintel. Nail the trimmer studs to the original studs on each side of the opening and the lintel to the tops of the trimmer studs. Nail through the lintel into the base of any cut stud.

If the door frame is narrower than the distance between the trimmer studs, fit an intermediate between the lintel and sole plate, linking it with short braces to one of the trimmer studs.

Cut out the section of sole plate across the bottom of the opening and fit the door frame. Finish the partition by nailing on gypsum- board and applying a skim coat of plaster over the top.

A hatchway between a kitchen and dining room can be extremely useful, and you may wish to consider installing one should you have to block off a redundant doorway, or to suit other remodeling plans. Plan its position carefully so that it coincides with a work surface in the kitchen and something like a worktop or small table in the dining room so that there will be somewhere to place dishes and plates, for example.

The method for making a pass-through is basically the same as that for making a doorway, except that the opening is not continued to the floor. In a wood framed partition, a wood sill piece is needed between the studs on each side of the opening.

The pass-through can be left open with plastered edges and a wood sill, screwed across the bottom or a wooden lining frame can be fitted to take hinged or sliding doors, or some form of roller blind to give the maximum amount of privacy, and also to prevent cooking smells, for example, from drifting through.

Fitting Services in a Partition Wall

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

Careful planning is essential when arranging a partition — this extends to working out cable and pipe runs and installing them as you build.

The time to put either cables or pipes into a stud partition is when the framework is finished.

Whenever installing cables or pipes in any kind of wall, remember that they must always run vertically or horizontally directly to or from each fitting.

To run cable through the framework of a stud partition, bore a 3/4in hole through either the head plate or sole plate into the ceiling or floor void as appropriate and, depending on the direction from which the cable is to come, drill similar holes through the centers of any bracing that cross the cable route.

Feed in the cable. leaving plenty of excess. Cut a hole in the drywall for the fitting and feed the end of the cable through this as you fit the drywall in place.

Working in the same way. make sure the holes you drill through the framework are larger than the diameter of the pipe. This will make maneuvering them into place easier and allow them to expand and contract as the temperature fluctuates. Keep the number of joints inside the partition to the bare minimum and make sure you test any plumbing system before you finish the cladding; if there is a leaking joint you will be able to rectify it. If the pipes are to drop down from the ceiling you could remove a floorboard in the room above and feed them down through the partition from there.

Alternatively, pipes can be clipped into notches cut in the edges of the bracing and studs. Using a back saw and bevel- edge chisel, cut notches wide enough to accept a pipe clip of the right size and deep enough so that the pipe does not touch the drywall cladding.

Electrical cables can be run across the surface of the blocks in pipes and held in place with clips.

For pipes, use a hammer and bricklayer’s chisel to cut out a channel across the face of the blocks, making it wide enough to accept the appropriate size of pipe clip and deep enough so that the pipe will be flush with the surface.

Should you want to bury a hot water pipe, it is best to run it through another pipe of the next size up, which will act as a sleeve and allow for expansion.

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).

Constructing a Blockwork Wall

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

Although a wood-framed partition is easy to build, it does not provide the most effective sound insulation and it will need extra strengthening if it is to carry shelves or cabinets. In situations such as this, a partition built from lightweight concrete blocks is much more suitable. However, you cannot build such a partition on an upper floor, since even a reinforced concrete floor is unlikely to be strong enough to carry the load of a concrete block partition. A concrete first floor makes an ideal foundation and even a suspended wood first floor will do if a full-width wood sole plate is put down first, but check with your local Code.

Before starting work, the floor, walls and ceiling should be stripped of all coverings and any coving and base cut away with a chisel to clear the blocks. The easiest way to mark the position of the partition is

with a chalked plumbline, snapping it against the floor to leave two parallel chalk lines the width of the blocks. Continue these lines up the walls and across the ceiling making sure they are vertical.

For strength, it is best to tie the partition to adjacent walls by cutting recesses in them to accept the end blocks of alternate courses or similarly by using galvanized metal ties screwed to the walls and buried in the blockwork mortar joints. Nailing a guide batten to the wall against one of the chalk lines is also a good idea to help with the alignment.

Trowel a 6in wide layer of mortar (1 part masonry cement: 6 parts soft sand) across the floor to span the chalk lines on it, leveling it out to about 1/2 an inch thick. Then scribe a guide line through the mortar in line with the chalk marks on the end walls, using the point of your trowel and a long straight-edged plank.

There are many different types of concrete block to choose from, but the best types for building an internal partition are known as aerated blocks (A).

These are light in weight, so they are easy to handle — an important quality since they are twice the size of a normal brick. This fact also means that you can build a full-height partition relatively quickly. You can drill them, knock nails into them or, using a general-purpose saw, cut channels in them (B) to conceal electric cables and pipe work. Sound will not pass through them as easily as it would a woodframed partition, nor will heat.

Aerated blocks should be laid in the same manner as bricks in a “stretcher” bond pattern with mortar joints. Their normal size is 17 x 81/2 x 4in. For finishing, you can either plaster them directly or nail on battens and fix a gypsum board cladding to the battens.

Bracing the Stud of a Stud Partition

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

With all the studs of your stud partition in place, now fit the bracing. If you intend cladding the partition with standard aft sheets of gypsum board, place the bracing in a row 4ft from the floor. If the partition is taller than 8ft, a second row of bracing should be fitted to support the upper edges of the drywall panels and the lower edges of the panels above them.

For strength, stagger the bracing above and below each other — this makes fitting easier, too — but if they are to support the edges of two sheets of drywall they must all be in line. In this case, the center line of each brace must coincide with the edges of the panels. Mark the brace positions on the studs with a pencil and level to make sure they are all horizontal.

Cut the bracing so that it is a close fit between the studs but not over-length, otherwise it will push the studs out of true.

Begin fitting the bracing at the wall end of the partition and work in towards the center. A block of wood nailed to the wall stud will support the end of the first brace while you nail through the second stud into the other end of the brace. Use two nails. Then toe-nail the inner end of the brace to the wall stud. If the bracing is to be lined up, repeat this procedure for each one; if it is to be staggered, simply drive nails through the studs into the ends of the brace.

The ends of the bracing (“header”) over a doorway must be fitted in 1 1/2in deep slots cut in the sides of the adjacent studs. Cut down the side of each slot with a back saw and remove the waste with a lin bevel-edged chisel, working in from each end, or use a double stud at the header ends to support it.

Having completed the framework, you can remove the section of sole plate from the threshold of the doorway. Simply saw through each end level with the studs on each side. Then clad the framework with gypsum board, trimming the panels round the doorway flush with the studs and header.

The door opening should be trimmed with lengths of 4 x in planed softwood that fit flush with the faces of the gypsum board panels on each side. Cut a length to fit snugly between the studs at the top and screw this to the header. Then screw two longer pieces to the studs on each side of the door opening.

Finally, cut pieces of molding to fit round the door opening, mitering their corners at 45°. Nail the molding to the edges of the trimming pieces with in finishing nails, driving their heads below the surface.

Fixing new skirting

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

For a tight fit, you should only measure and cut a skirting board after fixing the adjacent one in position. What’s more, neatness dictates that the ends have to be cut in the right way.

External corners are always mitred. You can use either a deep mitre or box, or a circular saw which should be set to a 45° bevel, and drive light nails through the completed joint. Where walls meet at odd angles (eg, round bay windows) you’ll have to gauge each angle with a sliding bevel, and measure it with a protractor. Then re-set the bevel to half the angle, and mark the pieces accordingly.

On internal corners, however, a mitre will tend to separate and show a gap because, when you fix the second board against the wall, it will tend to move away slightly from the first board. The answer is to scribe the profile of the molding onto the second board — see opposite. Cut it out so that its end fits snugly into position over the first board. Then cut it to length at the other end. (Plain boards, of course; can just be butt-jointed.)

The fixing itself depends largely on what’s behind the old skirting. If it’s fairly recent, the plaster will probably run right down to the floor, the skirting being simply nailed on top of it. Nail the new piece on in the same way, using masonry nails long enough to pass through both layers of plaster and into the brickwork — say 63mm (2 1/2in).

For a hollow timber-framed stud partition, use ordinary oval or lost-head nails, making sure they pass through the cladding and into the timber sole plate (into the studs. too, in the case of wide skirtings). Ordinary nails will also do for solid walls of soft blocks.