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post #1 of 53 Old 12-29-2012, 03:10 PM - Thread Starter
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Just bought a house. Building a home theater in the basement. I want to soundproof this as properly as I can: clips, two layers of drywall, Green Glue, etc.

I have a few obstacles, but this one is particularly frustrating. The basement has low a ceiling, and has a support beam just after the entrance that I already have to duck under to get into the room.



Currently, the beam is at about my forehead level. It's a nuisance to duck under it, but I can live with it. However, if I have to put full soundproofing around this beam, that will drop the height another couple of inches, and will bring it to the level of my nose. That is unacceptably low.

Moving the beam is not an option. Too complex, too expensive.

I'm willing to sacrifice some soundproofing performance to maintain the current height, or close to it. How important is it to soundproof this beam? It's obviously very heavy, but it's also directly connected to the framing of the house. I don't imagine that many sounds would get through it, but vibrations could be problematic. If I watch a loud, bassy action movie, how annoyed is my wife going to be upstairs?

One contractor recommended that I put the sheetrock, glue, etc only on the sides of the beam. He wants to line the bottom with a material called IsoWalk, that he says will help absord some of the vibrations, at least enough that I can get away with it. I can't find much information about this material. Is it snake oil?

Am I overthinking this? Is it really not as big a concern as I've made it out to be?

What other options do I have that will spare me from having to lower the height of this beam any further than it already is?

Thanks in advance.

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post #2 of 53 Old 12-29-2012, 04:11 PM
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Can you accommodate a 1/2" drop under that beam?

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post #3 of 53 Old 12-30-2012, 07:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ted White View Post

Can you accommodate a 1/2" drop under that beam?

Yes, I could deal with that, but not much further. What do you recommend, Ted? Thanks.

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post #4 of 53 Old 12-31-2012, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

..........Moving the beam is not an option. Too complex, too expensive.........

Have you had any quotes on replacing the beam? have you considered the cost of moving the beam in relation to your overall build budget? 1%, 2%, 10%, 50%? From the little research I've done on it, steel beams are not very expensive, and there are often other options in wood beams with different sized LVLs or Paralams. The problem of course, is getting one properly sized and installed. Personally, a beam that I had to duck to get under would drive me nuts, so I would be pretty motivated to get it addressed. Particularly if I'm planning to spend a substantial amount of money a space and plan to spend a lot of time there.

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post #5 of 53 Old 12-31-2012, 06:59 AM
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That is a pretty big beam you got there. Is it a wood beam? Do you have a layout of your basement? Perhaps you can avoid the beam....

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post #6 of 53 Old 12-31-2012, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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This is an old house, and was apparently built at a time when people were shorter. smile.gif

Yes, it's a wood beam. I have investigated moving or replacing it, but those are both way out of my budget. I considered moving the entrance to another side of the room, but the only option that might work for that is a wall with a lot of plumbing pipes on the other side. Moving those is another expense I can't afford right now. That wall is where I want to put my projection screen anyway.

Also, moving the door would require that I walk all the way around the basement to enter through the boiler room at the back, which is almost as big a nuisance as just ducking under the stupid beam.

The beam is something that I have to learn to live with. But lowering the height any more than another 1/2" would be really problematic.

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post #7 of 53 Old 12-31-2012, 10:34 AM
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I suspect Ted will recommend a single layer of drywall with green glue sandwiched between it and the beam. That way your drywall envelope is complete and you still have some damping between it and the structure.
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post #8 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 07:17 AM
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I suspect kromkamp is correct, but a call to Ted would be highly recommended to make sure the details are covered correctly. If you put your door under that beam, you would only lose the height for the door casing , and wouldn't compromise your soundproofing anymore than a door does anyway. Obviously, we're talking about a special order or cut-down door here. As mentioned previously, a layout of the space would help everyone get a better idea of what we're looking at/talking about.

To thoroughly beat this horse, have you considered cutting a doorway in the beam, and then adding support posts on either side and then adding an engineered beam between the support posts? You wouldn't be moving the whole beam, and the costs should be much less since the beam would be relatively short and it wouldn't require any major surgery.

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post #9 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 10:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_P_A View Post

I suspect kromkamp is correct, but a call to Ted would be highly recommended to make sure the details are covered correctly. If you put your door under that beam, you would only lose the height for the door casing , and wouldn't compromise your soundproofing anymore than a door does anyway. Obviously, we're talking about a special order or cut-down door here. As mentioned previously, a layout of the space would help everyone get a better idea of what we're looking at/talking about.
To thoroughly beat this horse, have you considered cutting a doorway in the beam, and then adding support posts on either side and then adding an engineered beam between the support posts? You wouldn't be moving the whole beam, and the costs should be much less since the beam would be relatively short and it wouldn't require any major surgery.

I have been working with John at The Soundproofing Company, but as I'd been waiting for him to get back from the holidays, I figured that I'd query here for some ideas in the meantime.

Putting a door under that beam would require that I build a wall there, which I don't want to do because it will cut off too much of my square footage.

You can find a sketch of my room layout and some additional pictures here:

http://www.highdefdigest.com/blog/hometheater-renovation-1/

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post #10 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 11:36 AM
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Have you looked behind the paneling and the ceiling tiles to see what's actually there. It'd be a shame to spend a lot of time planning only to find there's no actual beam there smile.gif Taking out that drop ceiling may gain a few inches of headroom as well.

Also, from the pictures and the layout I see you have two support posts, so you might be able to add additional joists between those two posts that will let you cut out an archway or something like that between the posts. You could work it in with the design of the room since you have to deal with those posts anyway.

How many rows of seats are you planning? With a <7' ceiling height, you will be limited in what you can do for a riser.

Also, you probably already know this, but I'd be careful with those floor and ceiling tiles. A home that age is always suspect with regard to asbestos.

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post #11 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 01:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_P_A View Post

Have you looked behind the paneling and the ceiling tiles to see what's actually there. It'd be a shame to spend a lot of time planning only to find there's no actual beam there smile.gif

I've already stripped the room. You can see the raw beam at the right of the photo I attached to the first post. It goes all the way from one end of the room to the other. I gain a smidge by pulling the paneling off the beam, but it's still only 6 feet off the floor and I still have to duck. I basically don't want anything new I do to go any lower than the original paneling.
Quote:
Taking out that drop ceiling may gain a few inches of headroom as well.

Unfortunately, only about 1/2 an inch. The drop ceiling was attached to strapping right against the joists. As I said, the house was built for short people. smile.gif

I'm told that John Huston spent a fair amount of time drinking bourbon in this basement with the previous owner. According to IMDb, he was my height, 6'2". I wonder if this stupid beam annoyed him as much as it annoys me.
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How many rows of seats are you planning? With a <7' ceiling height, you will be limited in what you can do for a riser.

I'm only putting in one row of seating.
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Also, you probably already know this, but I'd be careful with those floor and ceiling tiles. A home that age is always suspect with regard to asbestos.

Yes, I'm pretty sure the floor tiles are asbestos. I hadn't planned to touch them (just cover them with carpeting), but we've found a leaky pipe that may change those plans. Ugh, home ownership...

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post #12 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 02:03 PM
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That beam looks odd in the photo. It looks like it's segmented, or made of short pieces. Is it standard dimensional lumber or laminated?

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post #13 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 02:17 PM
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You should see if you can add a post under the beam near the door way, cut the section of beam out (or arch it) between the existing post and the new post, then insert a beam in the wall running parallel to the beam.

If that makes sense.


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post #14 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 03:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_P_A View Post

That beam looks odd in the photo. It looks like it's segmented, or made of short pieces. Is it standard dimensional lumber or laminated?

It's one piece. What you're seeing on the right are the framing boards in front of the beam, and on the left is the paneling that I hadn't yet pulled off the beam when I took the photo.

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post #15 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 03:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kamikaze13 View Post

You should see if you can add a post under the beam near the door way, cut the section of beam out (or arch it) between the existing post and the new post, then insert a beam in the wall running parallel to the beam.
If that makes sense.

There's about a four-foot gap between the beam and the wall behind it. Also, that's not a foundation wall. The laundry room is on the other side.

These are interesting ideas. I will ask my contractor, but I don't hold out a lot of hope.

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post #16 of 53 Old 01-02-2013, 08:47 PM
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I'm very curious to the best solution for the soundproofing of this beam.
I also have a low beam in my basement , similar situation to this one

Is this going to be the weak spot for any soundproofing efforts?
Is there any point of using clips , etc if there is a beam sticking below the ceiling ? Many people on this forum say soundproofing is an all or nothing
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post #17 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 06:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Josh Z View Post

This is an old house, and was apparently built at a time when people were shorter. smile.gif
Yes, it's a wood beam. I have investigated moving or replacing it, but those are both way out of my budget. I considered moving the entrance to another side of the room, but the only option that might work for that is a wall with a lot of plumbing pipes on the other side. Moving those is another expense I can't afford right now. That wall is where I want to put my projection screen anyway.
Also, moving the door would require that I walk all the way around the basement to enter through the boiler room at the back, which is almost as big a nuisance as just ducking under the stupid beam.
The beam is something that I have to learn to live with. But lowering the height any more than another 1/2" would be really problematic.

Could you post a layout of the basement (i.e. surrounding areas)? The wall you mentioned with the plumbing would be my next area to investigate if you can't get the beam modified to allow a normal entrance height. Moving plumbing should not be terribly expensive. A few hundred dollars I would imagine for a moderate amount of repiping. Again, not significant when put in perspective of the cost of the theater.

I'd also be interested in your proposed layout of the room. If you only plan to have one row of seats, and a I'm guessing a 9' to 10' screen, you should have lots of options for where to locate things in that room. I was even wondering about rotating the room and putting the screen on the long wall, or even the wall by the door shown in the picture so that the beam hangs down in front of the screen. If there is another entrance to the room, that could alleviate the issue with the beam. It's hard to make any suggestions about that sort of thing without seeing the whole space. You will also likely get more feedback with a layout. It's sort of a, "more effort in, more info out" relationship around here smile.gif

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post #18 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 06:59 AM
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J_P_A see post #9 for the link to his room layout.

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post #19 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 07:05 AM
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Ah. I'd missed the room layout at the bottom. Here it is for anyone else that might be interested.



A layout of the entire basement would be very helpful.

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post #20 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 07:38 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_P_A View Post

A layout of the entire basement would be very helpful.

I don't have that handy at the moment.

In the drawing above, the stairs come down near the entrance to the room. There's a laundry area to the right, and the boiler room at the back (behind where I want to put the projection screen).
Quote:
Moving plumbing should not be terribly expensive. A few hundred dollars I would imagine for a moderate amount of repiping.

As I've been learning, anything I need a plumber for is automatically a thousand dollars more than I think it should cost.

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post #21 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 07:54 AM
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Quote:
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.....
As I've been learning, anything I need a plumber for is automatically a thousand dollars more than I think it should cost.
....

Are you calling the same plumber every time wink.gif? I guess it depends on where you live to some degree.

Does the beam bisect that space from top to bottom (based on the drawing above) from foundation wall to foundation wall?

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post #22 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 07:58 AM
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I'd take kamikaze13's suggestion a few steps further, and design it to be safe. New footer and support pole. Then a couple of temporary brace walls of 2x4". Then notch the few floor joists above the support beam and add in a new support beam
spanning the existing beam. Then use metal hanger brackets to attach the cut floor joists to the new support beam above the doorway. I'd deal with the rest of the low beam by building a wall beneath it, and using the space as a storage space.

head room at entry.jpg 98k .jpg file

new layout.jpg 90k .jpg file

The narrower room while reducing finished space, gives you a side reflective side wall for improved audio performance, deals with the header issue, and provides a nice long storage room.
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post #23 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 08:03 AM
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+1

How much of the construction are you planning to do yourself? Modifications to that beam would need to be addressed by a pro, if for no other reason than analyzing the new beam, but I'm curious about how much of this HT you intend to DIY vs. hire out.

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post #24 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 08:11 AM - Thread Starter
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+1
How much of the construction are you planning to do yourself? Modifications to that beam would need to be addressed by a pro, if for no other reason than analyzing the new beam, but I'm curious about how much of this HT you intend to DIY vs. hire out.

I stripped the room myself, but the build-out will be done by a professional contractor. We meet on Friday to finalize my plans.

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post #25 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 08:16 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tedd View Post

I'd take kamikaze13's suggestion a few steps further, and design it to be safe. New footer and support pole. Then a couple of temporary brace walls of 2x4". Then notch the few floor joists above the support beam and add in a new support beam
spanning the existing beam. Then use metal hanger brackets to attach the cut floor joists to the new support beam above the doorway. I'd deal with the rest of the low beam by building a wall beneath it, and using the space as a storage space.
head room at entry.jpg 98k .jpg file
new layout.jpg 90k .jpg file
The narrower room while reducing finished space, gives you a side reflective side wall for improved audio performance, deals with the header issue, and provides a nice long storage room.

Building a wall under the beam is something that I've considered, but I'd really prefer not to lose the space on the right. For one thing, putting the equipment rack where I'd like it allows me easy access to get around the back and rewire/swap out equipment without having to pull the whole rack out. That's something I've been eager to do for a long time.

Also, my original sketch isn't entirely accurate. The beam and columns are pretty much in direct line with the 8' wall, so I'd be losing another foot on that side of the room.

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post #26 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 08:21 AM
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+1 on Tedd's suggestion.

The wall behind the beam in the photo should be able to be turned into a load bearing wall, making it possible to cut out or notch your main beam.

If you have 2x10 floor joists, spanning 16' shouldn't be a problem unless your building codes are really strict in your area.

If your builder is reasonable the cost shouldn't be too bad to do this. Mind you I do everything myself so I'm not used pricing things out.

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post #27 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 08:28 AM
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The way Tedd sketched it, you would have access to the back of the rack through the equipment closet. Two seats in an 11' wide space would still leave lots of room to spare.

It's really up to you as it's your space, but it would really piss me off to bang my head on that beam (and with me, it would just be a matter of time). I would also like the added symmetry of walling off that section. Just my 0.02. Keep us updated.

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post #28 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 08:38 AM
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Older houses are always more challenging, and once you start peeling back the onion, typically cost more than you anticipated as you find things wrong or need to be fixed.

My only advice here (which you may already be doing) is to get at least 3-4 bids from respectable contractors. While I did a lot of work myself, I did have to hire out some of the labor due to local building codes and to save time and I was amazed at how far apart some of the quotes were for the same job. Plumbing, for example. One company wanted three times what the other two were charging for the same job, and drywall contractors were even worse. I leveraged Angies List since I was new to the area and had a great experience. It saved me at least $10K vs just going with the fist quote and I never had any issues with any of the work performed.
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post #29 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 09:50 AM
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Another thought is to subdivide the space and build a small dedicated space. Treat the beam in the theater space with RSIC clips, plywood/Green Glue/double drywall/Green Glue, and use a DIY acoustically transparent screen beneath the beam

The 48 square feet behind the columns, lets you hide the speakers and sub/s, could let you use three identical front speakers, and provide a home for the av rack and maybe some bass absorbers.
I wouldn't recommend a front stage due to low ceiling height, but a very low, exposed stage a la SOWK's theater might just work. You could have a 2x6" sand filled stage behind the screen if
desired.

I would consider some sort of hinged fabric panel over the rack.

AT screen perhaps.jpg 82k .jpg file

If you did nothing with the PITA beam at the entry, I'd be tempted to simply stain it (or pad the sides) and take every millimeter of head room since the beam is out of the theater space.


edited to reflect beam relocation:

new support location.jpg 86k .jpg file

Maybe recessing the screen deeper doesn't work as well.....but I'd want my eyes at least ten feet off an AT screen.
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post #30 of 53 Old 01-03-2013, 11:59 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J_P_A View Post

The way Tedd sketched it, you would have access to the back of the rack through the equipment closet.

Not if that's going to be my soundproofed wall.

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