The Back Room

I've got a building bug. The success of the chair has given me a certain amount of confidence in my ability to achieve a goal that I've set for myself. Those square pieces of wood were stacked in that back room for months, just sitting there, mocking me, saying, "you don't know what to do with us. You're going to screw it all up. You don't even know the first step of making a chair." And they were partially right. But it turns out I DO know the first step of making a chair, or making anything, and the first thing you make is a plan. Damn, starting to get clever again.
Since I really like my chair, despite its flaws, I'm excited about my next big project, which is to enclose the back porch. Now, there was once a patio off of the dining room and hallway, and that had a roof over it, and many years ago somebody enclosed it. I'm not entirely sure how they did it, but it's got painted plywood on the outside and fake-wood paneling on the inside. It's always very whateverthetemperatureisoutside in there, and the bugs have easy access. I intend to seal it up, eventually putting vinyl or fiber cement siding on the outside, but primarily pulling off the paneling, adding insulation (if it's not there already), reinforcing the wall frame as needed, and putting up drywall. I plan to put in a solid door where there is currently a 60" x 80" sliding glass door, and I plan to cover up one of the windows.
I've been reading about framing and drywall, I've been looking through Google Images, watching videos on the proper way to use drywall joint compound, and I'm really excited about this project. That kind of excited I was about the video project for work a couple of weeks ago: looking forward to doing it while being a little nervous that I wouldn't be able to. Well, now my thrill is coming from this home improvement project. I have to make sure I have all the tools and supplies I need to pull it off, that I have it planned out well enough that I can do most of it in a day, or at least a weekend, and don't leave the house exposed much. Fortunately, as it is an add-on, and the interior, formerly exterior, wall and doors have not been compromised, if I leave the back room open, the house is not any more exposed than it was 30 years ago before the porch was closed in.
So the more I research it and plan for it, the more confident I feel about executing it, and I can't wait to get started. Sadly I have a lot of prep work to do in the way of clearing out space in our storage shed to fit everything that's in the back room now in order to get it empty so I can rip the walls off, etc. So the main thing I need to do to get started is plan. I need to set aside some time in which to expect to tackle these steps of the project.
The next step is unfortunately difficult to plan for. I need to pull the paneling off to find out what kind of frame is behind there. Is it 2x4s and insulation with fire breaks and cripple studs and all that, or is it a flimsy construction of sticks and mud? There are windows set in the walls, and they seem sturdy enough in their frames, like there must be some solidity to the structure. But with rafters spaced 36" apart, I don't know what the stud spacing is or if there is insulation or anything. Will I need 2x4s to reinforce the frame? Will I find rotting wood that needs to be replaced?
I have figured that I will need 8 sheets of drywall at 8'x4' to finish both of the new interior walls. That's not bad. Fifty bucks worth of sheetrock. Outside of the new door, that looks like it will be the most expensive part of the job. I was nervous about finishing the drywall, but after watching a couple of videos on YouTube, I feel totally confident in my ability to do that, even the corners. I'm still not sure about finishing the window frames, but I'm sure there's a video for that too. Get some corner beads and just compound over it like it's an outside corner. I think I'm going to want to replace the windows also. That gets really expensive really fast, but it will be necessary for temperature and noise control.
I have asked for a quote on the vinyl siding, both for materials only and for complete installation. I haven't seen any videos on it and I'm not at all confident about my ability to do that. Once I see the quotes I will likely fire up the ol' YouTube and teach myself how, so I can save hundreds of dollars in the end. Or maybe not.
So, assess the frame, make adjustments as needed, insulate, drywall, finish and paint. Somewhere in there put in new door(s) and windows.
Next step: put in a ceiling. Another thing I haven't read or watched videos about. I imagine it's not much different than the walls, as I can use drywall for that too. I'm going to put in a ceiling fan either way, but putting in insulation and an actual ceiling will help so much with temperature control. With the amount of time I have before the project start date, I'll be able to do plenty of research on putting in ceilings, so I'm confident I'll be fine. But, first things first: MAKE A PLAN.


  1. I made a plan and emailed it today, 11/30/2011 at 2 p.m.

  2. My plan goes into effect Saturday, March 3. We're supposed to clear out the shed, spread everything out in the back yard (with the dogs locked up) and judge harshly. We need to make room. Then we can drag the stuff from the room out into the yard and do it again. Then fit what we can into the shed. I need to buy tarps. Then I can start tearing the walls out of the porch.


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