Another Episode In Home Improvement

Tim the tool man here again strapping on my trusty carpenters belt. This time I am embarking on a familiar project for most hard working carpenters in that I am building an interior wall. The first thing one has to do is draw up a blue print of what this wall frame would actually look like. For those that don’t know what a wall frame is let’s just say it is the support structure that any panels you are attaching holds the finished wall you are building. In my case the finished wall will feature bamboo panels. To draw the blue print we have to use that tried and true tape measure to get the exact measurements of the wall to be built. The wall to be built will measure 16 ft. long by 6 ft. high. As most home builders know when constructing any wall the studs or support beams measure 16″ or 24″ apart depending on the existing or planned doors, plumbing, duct work or windows. In this wall it is relatively simple since there are no windows, doors or any other obstructions so the studs are to be separated in 16″ intervals. That is the basis of my blue print.

Next comes some basic math to figure how many 2×4’s are needed to build the wall frame. Since the wall is to be 16 ft. ling with 16″ intervals between each 2×4 we need 12 2×4’s for the studs frame. For the base and the top of this wall frame we also need 4 8ft. long 2×4’s which bring a total of 16 8ft long 2×4”s for the initial wall frame. Most framers today still use a nail gun. I prefer using screws because of a much tighter and more secure fit. Sure it takes a little more time but in the end a sturdier wall will result.

When thinking about home construction especially down here in Florida and I have walked through various construction sites the shoddy workmanship, and cheap building materials used it is a wonder that these new homes pass inspection. But, then again the specs and building codes are allot more stringent say in places like New England. If a major hurricane came rolling through all these newly constructed homes would fall right down. With termites under every rock and infesting the soil too many builders use timber that is proven termite food. Still so many home construction sites all around the state of Florida use the cheapest materials and yet for the perspective home buyer who never witnesses the inner frame work that goes into these homes never realize that within 5 years or so they will have extensive termite damage as well as the stucco finish on the outside will often crack and fall apart. So being an astute observer of what not to use in building my frame work I have opted for using pressure treated wood for all my home improvement projects. Even though the materials cost a little more but in the end it is well worth it.

I have notice too that in my home town of Tampa new home sites are springing up almost overnight. These developers often pay very little to acquire the land and then proceed to construct this new homes using the very cheapest materials and labor they can find and then turn around and sell these finished homes for hundreds of thousands of dollars. And, I know darn well building these homes even with the labor cost these homes only cost about $60,000. No wonder home prices are soaring as well as rents. My biggest concern is the available job market. Here in Tampa the majority of jobs don’t even come close to paying the kind of money that would afford someone making a mortgage for these homes or apartments that are being constructed.

But, back to building my wall. Since this wall is being built on an existing tile floor I am using a little unorthodox method for the base. Usually most installers just use cement nails to anchor the base 2×4 to the existing concrete. But, in my case instead of nailing into the tile underneath and having the tile being susceptible to cracking I am using concrete to anchor the 2×4’s to the tile floor. Again this take a little more time in that the 2×4’s used as the base need to set for a day before erecting the rest of the frame.

Before any of this can be done it is off to my neighborhood Home Depot where I am considered one of their favorite customers to purchase the necessary materials. Good thing I have beat up car that has the back seat open up to the trunk. I can easily fit the necessary 8ft. 2x4s in with no problem. All may materials that are needed to finish the job including the bamboo panels come to a little over $200. Not bad considering I am the one building this wall.

Using premixed cement I use a trawl to spread the concrete then place each 2×4 on top leveling the base and making sure to follow the guide line that I drew up before hand. A straight line is essential as well as making sure vertical and horizontal lines are level. And for that I use my long level to make sure every thing is square. Once the base support is secure to the floor I can begin to cut the 2×4’s to the exact height needed and attach the studs to the base 2×4’s. Using mental brackets and inch and a quarter screws I proceed to anchor the studs making sure that each one is at a 90 degree angle to the base. For the top of the wall frame I again use mental brackets which are L shaped I use inch and a quarter inch screws to attach the top portion 2×4’s to the vertical studs already anchored to the base. All the time making sure everything is level and square. If I don’t keep a level base and straight stud frame work just imagine a wall that is tilted to one side or another. It just won’t work.

Now that the frame work is complete, square and level I can attach the bamboo panels using again inch and a quarter screws making sure that each panel is level and with out seams. What is the desired effect is a finished wall that is virtually seamless and uniform making the whole room that much more complete. And there you have my finished wall that is a welcome addition to my home improvement projects. It is too bad that most home builders don’t take the time to make sure the construction and materials used is of the highest quality and build with the best integrity. Until the next time this is Tim the tool man saying so long.

About the author