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JB's Home Theatre Build Thread

post #1 of 51
Thread Starter 
First off, I would like to thank all of the pioneers on the HT build front. For without the contributions of all of you DIY'ers I would not even be considering building my own home theatre room.

Like so many others, I have been inspired by the craftsmanship and in depth knowledge of this avs community. I have been itching since I moved in December to finish my basement and I will officially start construction in June.

Some details on my HT room dimensions and my initial thoughts::
  • Location: Daylight basement
  • Rough room dimensions: 16' wide x 40' long
  • 9 foot basement ceiling
  • 120" wide Seymour AT Center Stage XD DIY screen w/ 2.35.1 aspect ratio; will also be used as a 90" wide 1.78.1 screen
  • Panasonic AE4000u
  • Triad Silver LCRs Inwalls behind AT screen (no false wall)
  • 7.1 surround sound (Inwalls for surround; Inceiling for rears)
  • 10 inch tall 8' x 6' riser
  • Seating arrangement: 2 rows of 3
  • A/V closet under stairs
  • Expected use: 50% time for movies; 30% for tv; 20% for music listening
  • 1.5" XPS for underground exterior walls
  • Dricore or Delta FL + 5/8" T&G subfloor
  • Replace glass lited exterior door with a solid wood door
  • Window treatment (blinds + draperis)

I am by no means an audiophile. In fact, I thought my previous low-end 5.1 Infinity based (RS3 bookshelf fronts, CC3 center channel, powered by a Sony Reciever) home theatre system sounded quite good . My main objective is to reproduce the movie experience at home while preserving the open-ness of my basement so that this entire area can be used for entertaining. Please note that I do not wish to subdivide my home theatre area for the sake of creating a state-of-the art sound environment.

Any feedback or suggestions would be greatly appreciated! See my attachments below for actual photos of the proposed home theatre area and for a visualization of my initial thoughts for the entire basement.

Thank you in advance....

Updated 06/27/2010:

Thermal Insulation:

At the time of this post, best pratices for insulating exterior walls included the installation of Polystyrene foam panels (XPS) as well as unfaced fiberglass batt insulation. From what I have gathered it is still advantegous to install a vapor barrier on framed exterior walls (typically the walls on the walk-out side of a basement). [indent]XPS: Main motivation for using this stuff is to increase energy efficiency (adds R value of your walls) and to prevent warm air from reaching cooler concrete and condensing. Moisture in a wall cavity can result in mold developing. XPS is moisture resistant, not water-proof.


XPS Assocation:

Top Manufacturers:

Appropiate Thickness:

  • 1" - 2". Some believe that 1" is not thick enough to control moisture. Others believe that 2" does not breathe sufficiently. 1.5" appears to be a happy median. I chose 1" for my installation.

Where to buy:

  • Home Depot
  • Lowes
  • Stock Building Supply
  • Jarco Supply (local company)


Rigid Foam Adhesive: I purchased some PL300 foam adhesive from Home Depot to attach the rigid foam to my concrete walls.


Type: PL300
Amount Needed: 1 tube per 4x8 sheet
Applying technique: Continous bead across the top edge. Dashed line across the bottom edge. Vertical beads 12" apart. Apply rigid foam board to concrete walls. Remove rigid foam board for 2 minutes to allow the adhesive to become tacky. Re-apply foam to concrete wall. Press foam firmly against concrete wall until glue dries.

Batt insulation:

  • This should be fairly obvious but one should be sure to insulate basement walls to control heat transfer and to deaden sound.
  • Check your local building code to determine the appropiate R value for basement walls in your area.
  • Make sure you select framing material that will support your desired R value. For instance, R13 requires 2x4 framing. R19 requires 2x6 framing.
Lighting:


I actually thought that I spent way to much time selecting a recess can but that was mainly because I had no experience in this department and there was to much information spread out all over these forums. If you are anal about things you should do your own research, but I narrowed down what I needed to know to the following:
  • Size - most prevalent size in HT are 4" and 6" cans
  • IC or non-IC - if your recess can will be in contact with insulation you need IC
  • Air-tite - helps reduce airflow to the floor above
  • New construction or Remodel - pretty obvious but make sure you select the correct one. The new construction variant will have 2 rails that can be nailed to your truss floor joists.
  • Bulb preference (Incan/Halogen/LED) - LED is still pretty expensive . If you are using the recess can in your HT, make sure it is dimmable.

Recessed housing manufacturers I considered:

  • Halo - H7ICAT
  • Commericial Electric -CAT7ICATA
  • Seagull Lighting - 1128

My Build Dashboard:

06/04/2010 - Permit approved.
06/11/2010 - HVAC Installed [Contracted].
06/18/2010 - XPS Rigid Foam Installed.
06/23/2010 - Framing Done [Contracted].



-JAB
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post #2 of 51
I also have a more open layout and love it. It makes entertaining so much nicer.

A few suggestions:
  • Go a little deeper on the riser if you plan to use recliners or HT seating. 6.5' is the bare minimum you'd want if you have reclining chairs with foot rests.
  • You could easily go 4 wide with HT seating such as berkline for one of your rows (minding the door).
  • Blinds, and blackout shades for the windows! I even used some tint on my sliding glass door which helps a lot.
  • I am a fan of false walls for the screen and putting your speakers behind it. You could also hide your sub and acoustic treatments back there. You have plenty of depth to play with, even with 2 rows and a bar.
  • I recommend waiting as long as you can before buying equipment... especially the projector. That way nothing will be going obsolete while you deal with construction delays.
post #3 of 51
Be sure to zone and dim the lights. You will want the back of the room dimmed and the front totally off for entertaining. Think about bringing a buried electrical line out to the riser for powered seats and for step lights for safety. A 1/2 day rental of an electrical jack hammer is all it is going to take. A 10 inch high riser will require a step-up. You might want to think about an 8 inch riser and a 2 inch booster under the bases of the rear row seating and you won't need the step-up.
post #4 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jamis View Post

I also have a more open layout and love it. It makes entertaining so much nicer.

A few suggestions:
  • Go a little deeper on the riser if you plan to use recliners or HT seating. 6.5' is the bare minimum you'd want if you have reclining chairs with foot rests.
  • You could easily go 4 wide with HT seating such as berkline for one of your rows (minding the door).
  • Blinds, and blackout shades for the windows! I even used some tint on my sliding glass door which helps a lot.
  • I am a fan of false walls for the screen and putting your speakers behind it. You could also hide your sub and acoustic treatments back there. You have plenty of depth to play with, even with 2 rows and a bar.
  • I recommend waiting as long as you can before buying equipment... especially the projector. That way nothing will be going obsolete while you deal with construction delays.

Thanks for the feedback Jamis. All good points. I will adhere to your advice about the riser depth and make it 6.5'. I too like the concept of a false wall, but I really don't have 2 feet of depth to sacrifice. I would like to maintain at least 15 feet between the wetbar and the bar stools so I can drop in an oblong poker or pool table later. Nice build thread BTW...
post #5 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Be sure to zone and dim the lights. You will want the back of the room dimmed and the front totally off for entertaining. Think about bringing a buried electrical line out to the riser for powered seats and for step lights for safety. A 1/2 day rental of an electrical jack hammer is all it is going to take. A 10 inch high riser will require a step-up. You might want to think about an 8 inch riser and a 2 inch booster under the bases of the rear row seating and you won't need the step-up.

More good info. I had not considered the fact that a 10" riser would be a little steep w/o a step. I would rather not add a step on the sides and front of that riser so I am pretty sure I will revert to 2x8 construction for a 8" riser. And yes I agree that a dimmer is a must have. I am still pondering how I will get power to my recliners. I am somewhat concerned because I have no clue where my plumbing has been buried.
post #6 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jabrown View Post

I am somewhat concerned because I have no clue where my plumbing has been buried.

The only thing that would be buried are drain lines. If you know where the city sewer or septic field are then when pipes head through the slab they are generally going to be heading that direction. Or, connecting to another line heading that direction. They would also be buried beneath the concrete and careful breaking of the concrete won't disturb the pipes.

If you have city sewer those lines are usually along the street and your drains would head that direction. So if that room is on the back of the house then the safest place to consider running electrical lines is from the outside wall to the riser. You basically connect a buried line to the closest outlet in an adjacent wall.
post #7 of 51
Thread Starter 
I made a few changes to my original floor plan and submitted it to the
county.

$366.00 later.....

APPROVED.
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post #8 of 51
Thread Starter 
I live in Raleigh, NC and I can't find any XPS greater than 3/4" locally. I went to Home Depot and they said they could special order it but I would have to buy a palette worth. Does this sound right? Based on the palette sizes, I would have a lot of material left over. A palette of 1" rigid foam includes 96 sheets. A palette of 1.5" foam includes 64 sheets. I only need 30 or so.
post #9 of 51
Have you checked the local commercial building supply companies.

this place may have it:

http://stockbuildingsupply.myeshowro...manufacturer=0
post #10 of 51
Thread Starter 
Oddly enough, Stock does carry the XPS but they only have 2x8 sheets. I did found a product called Greenguard XPS that I can get locally in 4x8 sheets. It appears to have a slightly higher flame spread index when compared to Owens, but I assume all of these products are relatively the same. Any reason not to go with Greenguard XPS? Here is a link to their XPS product line: http://greenguard.pactiv.com/residen...sulation-board
post #11 of 51
Thread Starter 
I am ready to install my XPS and I was wondering if I needed to follow any special gluing pattern. I have a book that says you should apply a continous bead of adhesive to the top edge. Thoughts?
post #12 of 51
Thread Starter 
I purchased 35 sheets of 1 inch Greenguard XPS rigid foam and it arrived on June 14th. It took me about a week to get all the foam board installed mainly because I was working 2 - 3 hours a night while watching the NBA playoffs. I picked up some PL300 from Home Depot to adhere the rigid foam to the concrete walls. It seemed like every tube of adhesive had an air pocket in it, so it made me wonder how much adhesive was really in the tube? In any respect, I used about 1 tube per 4x8 sheet. I also constructed a press out of 2x4's to hold the foam in place while I moved on to the next sheet. I used Dupont Tyvek tape to seal the seams.
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post #13 of 51
Thread Starter 
Nothing exciting to report here. I contracted this work out to the same people who did my HVAC when the home was built. I have two units in the basement now. I had them run fresh air and combustion lines for both units to the outside because the mechanical room will be fairly small (6x11x9 - WxLxH) after all the walls go up. I will need to call them back before the walls go up because I just noticed that there is one duct running down the middle of my ceiling and this is where 3 of my recess cans will be going.
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post #14 of 51
Thread Starter 
The same guys that framed my house, framed my basement. They used 140 2x4s. There were 5 guys and they worked from 7:30 am until 6 pm. It would have taken me an entire month to do this myself. I purchased the lumber myself to ensure that the framer was not making any money on timber. The labor rate was a steal considering all the soffit work and fire blocking that these guys did.
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post #15 of 51
Thread Starter 
I am going to do my own electrical work and I am trying to think of every place where I need to run line voltage. Here is the list I have so far:
  • Subpanel to Grafik
  • All loads to Grafik
  • Recess cans
  • Ceiling for projector
  • Scounce lights
  • A/V Closet
  • Riser
  • Wet Bar (Microwave/Fridge)
  • Sub

Am I missing something important?
post #16 of 51
/Subscribe. Nice plan, execution.
post #17 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jabrown View Post

Thanks for the feedback Jamis. All good points. I will adhere to your advice about the riser depth and make it 6.5'. I too like the concept of a false wall, but I really don't have 2 feet of depth to sacrifice. I would like to maintain at least 15 feet between the wetbar and the bar stools so I can drop in an oblong poker or pool table later. Nice build thread BTW...

Looking at your plan, I would say that you have plenty of room to extend your riser to 7' deep (same as mine) AND to put up a false wall if you wanted to. An an overall length of of 38' is more than enough unless you have something specific in mind for behind the bar (besides the kitchenette area). 13' from counter to bar would be more than enough to have people mingle and congregate and wouldn't be much different than the 15' you have in the plan.

Your room is longer and wider than mine.
post #18 of 51
Thread Starter 
The electrical is taking me more time than I expected. I am still not done with my 120v wiring. No wonder electricians charge so much. I have installed 24 HALO recess cans and the quick connect terminals attached to these cans really made life easy. I would also recommend that you pick up some snap-tite 2 screw connectors to stabililize the electrical wire. The snap-tite connectors require less time than the traditional screw back type.

The other thing that really slowed me down was the fact that the electrician that installed my basement sub-panel when my home was built ran a 8 AWG cable from my panel to to my 200 AMP disconnect. Urgh! A 8 AWG cable can only support a 60 AMP panel. So I had to remove that cable and run a new 2 AWG cable to my disconnect. Now I can have 100 AMP service in my basement as I had originally intended.

Lastly, I had to cut 2 inches of concrete to get power and CAT6 to my riser. I used a circular saw with a masonry saw blade and a chisel bit to carve a path. This process produced quite a bit of mess. It took about an hour for the dust cloud to dissipate.

Of course I could not wait to test out the Grafik Eye 3106. I picked it up on Ebay and it works like a charm. I am able to control all of the zones in my home theatre area with the 3106. Mission accomplished!
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post #19 of 51
Thread Starter 
I am just about ready for drywall and wanted someone to double check my calculations. Am I going to be okay here?
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post #20 of 51
Thread Starter 
I finally finished the 120v electrical, low voltage wiring, and insulation. Wiring a 1100 square foot basement proved to be a very tedious chore. By NC code from any vertical line drawn on the wall there needs to be an electrical outlet within 6 feet. So between the outlet boxes, cat6 runs, speaker wire runs, and stapling I got pretty burned out. I ran smurf pipe to my HT speaker locations and to the projector for future proofing, but I didn't run any wire through it. I found that to be to time consuming and instead I just ran the wire through the cieling truss. It took me about 1 week to insulate the basement. I picked up close to 30 rolls of R19 unfaced insulation from Home Depot and installed it in the wall cavaties that are below ground. If you have more time than money, Home Depot has R19 unfaced 36 sq ft rolls for $10. The installation of these rolls is more time consuming because they are not precut but this was perfect for my application because I have 9 ft ceilings and the longest precut batt that I could find was 8 ft. I was able to fill 3 cavities with one roll with practically no remnants. I also used 5 rolls of R19 faced insulation and 6 mil plastic sheathing for the walk out side of my basement. I passed my final inspection pre-drywall inspection which is insulation. I will need about 75 sheets of sheetrock for the basement and since I would like to be done by Christmas I have decided to hire a subcontractor to install the drywall, mud, and sand. The sheetrock subs started Friday. They should be done by Tuesday.
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post #21 of 51
Drywall subs have notoriously messed up exposed low voltage wiring. make sure any wires are tucked well at the back of any boxes and that any connectors on things like HDMI runs are well wrapped up to weather the storm.
post #22 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by jabrown View Post

I am just about ready for drywall and wanted someone to double check my calculations. Am I going to be okay here?

Your seating distances/screen size are very similar to mine. I don't see any issues with your plan. You may want to experiment a bit to check your riser height to make sure 8" will be enough. I ended up closer to a foot but my screen's a bit lower than yours.
post #23 of 51
Thread Starter 
The subs have done a great job thus far. Drywall is up and the 1st coat of mud has been applied. I just glanced at the low voltage gang boxes and only one cat6 line got nicked. I have enough slack in the box to repair that cable.
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post #24 of 51
Thread Starter 
Not me
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post #25 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC View Post

Think about bringing a buried electrical line out to the riser for powered seats and for step lights for safety. A 1/2 day rental of an electrical jack hammer is all it is going to take.

You could just get a diamond saw and cut two channels in the cement to the riser and then chisel it out. Jackhammers tend to cause a lot fo debris.
post #26 of 51
Quote:
Originally Posted by marklabelle870 View Post

You could just get a diamond saw and cut two channels in the cement to the riser and then chisel it out. Jackhammers tend to cause a lot fo debris.

This is exactly what I did to run electrical and speaker wires (for shakers) to my riser. I also kept the floor fairly wet in the area I was cutting and the nozzle of the shop-vac right near the blade as it was cutting. I made 2 cuts the length of the trench, each about 2" deep then went to work with the cold chisel and a 3lb sledge. It took about 3 hours to make a 5' trench.


post #27 of 51
Thread Starter 
If I had to do it again I would have paid someone to spray the ceilings. I paid someone $500 to prime the walls and ceilings and then I painted the entire basement by myself. I am pleased with the paint color and the outcome of this phase of the project. Getting closer to completion
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post #28 of 51
Thread Starter 
I read the installation instructions and watched a video on how to install these panels properly but I wanted to check with you guys to understand if there is something I should definitely watch for or additional precautions I should take that are not spelled out in Dri-core's literature. I have 300 panels sitting in my garage that need to be moved to the basement. I wanted to start tonight, but I guess I should allow up to 24 hours for the wood to acclimate as describe on their website. I already purchased a hammer drill, some flathead Tapcon screws, Tapcon Condrive unit, a tapping block, a pull bar, and some 1/4" spacers. Thoughts?
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post #29 of 51
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jabrown View Post

I read the installation instructions and watched a video on how to install these panels properly but I wanted to check with you guys to understand if there is something I should definitely watch for or additional precautions I should take that are not spelled out in Dri-core's literature. I have 300 panels sitting in my garage that need to be moved to the basement. I wanted to start tonight, but I guess I should allow up to 24 hours for the wood to acclimate as describe on their website. I already purchased a hammer drill, some flathead Tapcon screws, Tapcon Condrive unit, a tapping block, a pull bar, and some 1/4" spacers. Thoughts?

I found the Tapcon screws to be a hit or miss. I think the biggest issue for me was getting the screw perfectly aligned with the pre-drill hole. Going through the dri-core panels first made this quite tricky and the price of slight variations in entry points is broken concrete. I ensured that my pilot hole was deep enough to collect debris but I could not reliably secure the panels with these screws. The good news is that I found a tool that worked 100% of the time. The Ramset trigger shot was a life saver for me. The panels are hard enough to prevent the nails from penetrating all the way through.

The dri-core shims work if your floor is pretty level and you can identify where they will be required before installing the panel. I tried to tap dance in the vicinity where I was laying another panel to identify low spots but still missed quite a few. In the end, it was nothing that the Ramset couldn't take care of.

Lastly, I was not sure what best practices said about running dricore in multiple rooms and maintaining an existing tongue and groove pattern. I contacted dri-core and this was there response, "you are not required to continue to the adjacent room, you can just cut it and use 1/4" x 2 1/4" screws to fasten the edge pieces that do not have the tongue and groove system. If you are able to continue from one room to another that is fine as well." I started a new pattern in all of my separate rooms and left about 1/16 inches of space between the planks that were not joined via their tongue and groove system.

3 weekends and many nights later, 296 panels have been installed. Definitely not the hardest thing to do if you can use a circular saw and a carpenters square.
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post #30 of 51
Thread Starter 
I drank some Gatorade and watched these go up. No sweating for me today
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