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porpie 03-07-2014 12:04 PM

I feel like I'm diving in head first, as I'm no expert in home theaters, and far from an expert in construction & renovation. I'm a techie, as are most people in AVS I'm sure, and I've learned lots from reading through many of the threads here. There are still a lot of things I don't fully understand though such as:

1. how important is placement of the sub?
2. how can I determine if I'll have resonance issues and need better sound dampening?
3. why the heck are LED recessed cans so stinking expensive?
4. does partial assymetry in the room have a significant impact on acoustics and surround effects?
5. I plan on a 2.35 screen, but no budget for panamorph lens (planning to use zoom method). But should I get a curved or flat screen?

And probably lots more that I'm forgetting...

I welcome feedback, suggestions, etc. from the community as I move forward. Here's where I stand so far:

Equipment Owned:

Projector: Panasonic AE8000U
Receiver: Pioneer VSX-92THX
Bluray: Pioneer BDP-23FP
L/R Mains: Definitive Tech Mythos Four
Surrounds: Definitive Tech ProMonitor 800
Center: Polk Audio CS1
Sub: Cambridge Soundworks BaseCube 8 (embarrassing, I know. It's a really old tie-over from long ago)

Some things (like the sub) could get replaced, but with a tight budget (isn't that the case for most of us?), I'm leaving equipment upgrades last on the priority list until the rest of the renovation is paid for. Also, I only have speakers for a 5.1 setup right now, and due to the layout of the room, I don't think it would be very easy to squeeze in a 7.1. As it is, I have to put the surrounds in the back wall and not on the sides. :-/

Room Design:

The house was built in the 50s and doesn't have a terribly high ceiling in the basement. Finished floor-to-ceiling height will only be 85" Due to some existing headers and overhead plumbing, there will be a couple of soffits around the edges of the room. Even with the low ceiling, I have hopes I can squeeze in some crown moldings with concealed rope lighting.

Here's my (amateur) floor plan:

I also have plans to build a custom floating frame around the screen with rope lighting to create a surround glow (dimmable, of course). Here's some rough plans from a side view (dimensions are wrong):

OK, I'll leave that as the introduction post. I've already "broken ground" on the project, so I'll post some followups with photos and more hurdles we've already had to deal with.

Tedd 03-08-2014 06:05 PM

Do you really want your popcorn maker that near your screen?

Do you really want a refrigerator raising the noise floor of your room?

porpie 03-09-2014 11:37 AM


Thanks for the reply and advice on the popcorn and refrigerator. I hadn't even thought about oils getting in the air. Tricky thing to solve here, as the popcorn maker is the one and only thing my wife cares about. :-) Would moving it further away from the screen help, or does it really need to be in a separate room altogether? There's actually not an easy way to do this at this point, as the framing has already been done. I'll post an update and more photos tonight.

Regarding the refrigerator, I've been trying to read up on which ones have the lowest noise levels. I'm planning to get a regular beverage center (not rated as a built-in) for two reasons: 1. they're significantly less expensive. 2. the chilling hardware is in the back, instead of vented out the front bottom. I'm hoping this will push some of the noise out of the way. I planned to get around the heat/venting issues by locating the fridge directly next to the closet for the gas utility, with the side wall open for ventilation.

Thanks again for the tips (here and in the PM).


Tedd 03-10-2014 07:04 AM

I would at the very least, want the popcorn maker as far away from the screen as possible.
I love popcorn but my popcorn maker is now collecting dust in the garage.

The beverage center will raise the noise floor, but venting it to the closet should help a little.

porpie 03-10-2014 07:08 AM

Here's an update on construction, and some of the surprises we've encountered along the way.

Challenge #1: Water in the Basement

Before we started, I knew the first step I needed to take was to waterproof the basement. I've lived in the house for several years now, and once or twice a year, water would find its way into corners of the basement. After researching several waterproofing companies, we went with Basement Systems, which installs an interior curtain drain mounted near the surface on top of the foundation wall footing. I like this option because there is a 1/2" spacer along the foundation wall that catches any water that could possibly come down along the wall. There are also small access ports along the wall every 20 feet or so which allow you to service the drain. If it ever seems to fill up with silt or something, you can either snake the drain or run a pressure washer through it to flush stuff out. I can also run the drain line from a dehumidifier to one of these ports and never have to empty the basin.

Jackhammered bits of the basement slab were brought out in garbage pails.

New air-tight sump pump

1/2" spacer allows potential water from the walls to be caught by the perimeter drain.

Optimized by JPEGmini Internal
The interior french drain system by basement systems.

Challenge #2: Remove Lally Column

There was a finished spare room in the corner of the basement that we planned to demolish and absorb into the larger area that we are now finishing. During the demolition, we discovered a column hidden in one of the walls. It divided the 16' span between the stairs and the foundation wall, but it was directly in the middle of where we plan to put our seating. So there was no easy way to just box it in and work around it. The new back wall we had planned was about 3 feet further back, so to simply keep the back wall in place with the column and header beam would have shrunk the room considerably.
removing lally column and old header

Demolition begins on the old spare room.

So in comes a structural engineer with options to reinforce the existing header with steel plates or replace it all together with a new, larger LVL beam. We opted with the LVLs, as the cost for steel alone was nearly $2,000. We ordered 3 2x14" LVLs and I had one of my subcontractors build two temporary shoring walls on either side of the old beam, remove the old beam, cut out the overlapping section of all the floor joists, and install the new LVLs almost flush to the subfloor. They left a 1/2" gap to accommodate the exits for a couple of electrical wires coming out of the wall overhead. This also allows for space to feed through a few low voltage wires for A/V. They then installed hangers for all the floor joists.
old header beam removed
Old beam has been removed and floor joists cut to make room for new beam to be flush-mounted.

new LVL header in place
New LVL beam in place.

Before we could remove the old joist, however, there was a ton of electrical that had to be disconnected and removed. Multiple wires crossed above the old header, and a veritable highway of wires were clustered in staple runs along the beam itself. While my electrician removed all the high voltage stuff, I took the opportunity to identify and remove about a half dozen old wires that no longer served any purpose. The house no longer has any POTS telephone wires!

Disconnecting the wiring so the old header could be removed.

Part of the wiring that ran along the old beam.

Temporary spaghetti left hanging from one of the shoring walls during the beam replacement.

We had to drain the entire heating system (and it was below freezing outside!) to cut one of the main supply pipes that went through the middle of the old header beam. After the new beam was in place, we drilled a hole, soldered in a new piece, and refilled the heating system.

So the header has been replaced, the lally column removed, and the rough framing has been completed. The electrician is scheduled to come this afternoon to reconnect some of the spaghetti that was left during the header replacement. Over the next day or two most of the new lighting and electrical outlets should get installed.

porpie 03-11-2014 07:09 PM

So in my current plans, I want to put the projector behind the back wall so it's not suspended from the ceiling. Has anyone done an install like this? I'm thinking of installing a small piece of glass as a window for the projector, similar to what you see in a commercial theater. But that could compromise some of the sound isolation of the back wall. Maybe it would help to enclose the projector in a box of some sort on the shelf, but I need to make sure it's adequately vented.

Any advice?


porpie 03-19-2014 01:30 PM

Has anyone worked with Legrand Adorne wireless dimmers? I just ordered all my switches/dimmers/outlets for the room. I got the Touch dimmers (very pricey!) which use a 900mHZ RF signal to talk to each other. I have the Logitech Harmony Ultimate remote, which uses RF, but doesn't directly communicate with RF devices. Legrand sells an IR to RF interface device that I think I'll have to use to teach the Harmony IR signals to control the dimmers. It's a bit convoluted: the Harmony sends its own RF signal to it's own IR Blaster, which is read by Legrand's IR to RF interface which then sends it's own proprietary RF signal to the dimmers.

I'm sure using Insteon or RadioRA would be a safer, tried-and-true option. But have you seen the Adorne series? Getting mine with the mirror black plates. It should look pretty amazing.

porpie 03-27-2014 10:58 AM

All my outlets, switches, and faceplates came in a couple of days ago. I've still got to wait for the rough-in inspection so I can get the drywall installed and then finally get my lights working. The faceplates look gorgeous!

djearl81 03-27-2014 11:57 AM

Impressive Porpie. Looking forward to watching your thread evolve.

gec5741 04-01-2014 11:48 AM

115 Attachment(s)
Wow I really like the look of that legrand stuff! I may have to check into that sometime down the road. may be a fun thing to switch to (pun intended)

porpie 04-01-2014 02:50 PM

Here are a few photos of our current progress. Header has been replaced; rough electrical is done; new stairs have been installed; framing & electrical inspection are tomorrow. Then insulation goes in, another inspection, and we can begin drywall.

view from the game nook, looking back at the stairs and theater area

view "from the screen" looking back to where the seating will be... center- support- column-free! New header installed and shoring walls have been removed.

to save every spare inch, we ripped foundation-wall studs to 2x2s. Half-depth electrical boxes had to be used along this wall.

I'll be splitting my feeds for L|C|R channels into the 2 low-volatage faceplates. Adorne plates can only accommodate 4 ports each, so I'll put L|R on bottom and the Center on top, near the speaker shelf.

Perimeter soffits provide a nice tray for the ceiling, while concealing plumbing and electrical chases.

After lots of research, I went with standard 4" IC-rated line-voltage Halo cans; only $20/ea. I then bought dimmable LEDs for $10/ea & trims for $20/ea. So $50 total for each can... MUCH cheaper than the $200+/ea I was finding for IC-rated LED cans & trims elsewhere.

Dimmable Par20 LED bulb. Only $10 after instant energy rebates.

looking back at the old stairs. I'm having a friend help build a whole set of built-ins on both sides of the stairs. This will also house the AV rack.

The new stairs waiting to be installed.

I'll post up some of my plans for the built-ins under the stairs. I still need to do research on how to design the AV rack. AVS search, here I come...


porpie 04-18-2014 07:06 AM

Drywall is going in this week. I did all the insulation a couple of weeks ago (lost a week while I was away in Las Vegas for the NAB show last week). I did one layer of Roxul sound-proofing insulation followed by a second layer of R-13 in the ceiling. The walls all have R-13. I spent a lot of time stuffing every nook and cranny I could find with pieces of loose fiberglass or Roxul. I know this is nowhere close to adequate for complete sound isolation, but given our budget and the fact that we plan to move within 5-7 years, I decided to not go all-out with green glue & double layers of drywall. Hopefully what I've done will mitigate sound leakage enough that we can still watch movies with at least moderate volume without disturbing any sleeping children two floors above.

Our house is pretty dusty now with the drywall mudding/sanding, and my wife has planned a big Easter dinner for Sunday. So I'll be spending most of Saturday cleaning up the house and making sure our renovation mess is hidden as much as possible for Sunday guests. Hoping to begin painting next week!

Here are a few more work-in-progress photos:

View from the future game nook.

Looking back at the new staircase which is now installed.

Looking at the back wall which used to be divided by the lally column. I've decided to use Def Tech UIW-55s for the rear surrounds. The rest of my speakers are Def Tech, and with my previous setup, I only had room for 5.1. I don't think the rear surrounds typically get called upon a whole lot, so I'm hoping the 55s will be adequate.

Had to add some furring strips to drop the ceiling an inch behind the new header. A gas pipe and a couple of electrical lines ran beneath the floor joists.

Wiring for switches and a conduit for unknown future needs (maybe a wire run for Kinect?) drop into what will be a built-in cabinet. Bummer is that I'm not sure I can make use of any of my lights until the cabinet gets built and switches can be installed.

porpie 05-02-2014 11:48 AM

I've been inspired to paint my main ceiling with Ralph Lauren Suede, thanks to folks like @Cathan and others. I had trouble finding it at first, as the Ralph Lauren web site simply refers to Home Depot. However, my local Home Depot doesn't carry it, and the Home Depot web site specifically says they can't ship RL paint to Connecticut! Fortunately, I found it at another local painter supply store (I prefer doing business there anyway... much better service than the big box stores). I told them that I wanted the blackest suede they could give me, and they right away got on the phone with their Ralph Lauren rep to verify how much tint they could push into that paint without compromising the texture.

So I've got all the priming done now and about half of the finish coats. I went with "bow tie black" for all the doors and trim. I know that the closer you get to semi-gloss or gloss, the more durable the paint is, but I'm trying to keep things as flat as possible without opening it up too much to fingerprints, etc. I ended up going with eggshell on the trim, which the paint guy said is as far as I should go if I want any options to clean or wipe things down. My wife (as with pretty much everyone's wife, right?) is pretty leery of all this black, but we both really like the way the doors look. There's nothing as classy as black, eh?

Oh, I also finally got my lights working so I'm finally able to see in the room a bit better. My electrician came by and hooked up a couple of pig-tail plugs to the main can lights. Rope light and soffit cans aren't installed yet; will get those in as soon as the painting is all done.

Here are a few pics:

Looking at the back wall, now mostly painted. Cut-outs waiting to install the built-in surrounds.

Rope lights work! Can't wait to get these installed in the crown. Curious how they'll look.

Ralph Lauren suede for the ceilings. I've heard some scary stories about how hard this stuff is to work with...

First coat of the ceiling is on... went up very easily. Already see some of the texture, but should look better after final brush coat.

One of the doors painted black. Pretty happy with the look!

I had my crown molding custom-made. The decor is pretty modern, so I wanted to keep all the trim very square. Crown is understated in an L-shape to hide the rope light. If you enlarge the photo, you can see some of the suede texture already coming through on the ceiling.

Looking back towards where the cabinets/countertop will be. Love that black trim!

porpie 05-07-2014 05:48 AM

Here's the suede ceiling 2nd coat going in on the soffits.

vinmassaro 05-07-2014 05:37 PM

I will soon be moving into a new home and am planning the home theater build. I've decided on the Legrand Adorne softap wireless dimmers and could not find any information on using a Logitech Harmony remote to control these, so I look forward to hearing if you got these working!



Originally Posted by porpie View Post

Has anyone worked with Legrand Adorne wireless dimmers?

porpie 05-07-2014 07:03 PM

Originally Posted by vinmassaro View Post

I will soon be moving into a new home and am planning the home theater build. I've decided on the Legrand Adorne softap wireless dimmers and could not find any information on using a Logitech Harmony remote to control these, so I look forward to hearing if you got these working!

I'm itching to try mine out. Unfortunately the last part of my project is getting some built-in cabinets made and installed, and all my main switches/dimmers are going in this cabinet. So for now I've got temporary connections to run my lights, but I haven't been able to install and test out the Adorne switches yet. From what I understand though (and sure HOPE will work), the path from the Harmony goes something like this:

Harmony sends RF signal to IR Blaster => IR Blaster sends signal to Adorne IR-RF interface => Adorne IR-RF Interface sends RF signal to Adorne dimmer.

The proprietary nature of Legrand almost made me not go with them, but I couldn't resist the sex appeal of their Adorne series. They really look amazing!

vinmassaro 05-07-2014 08:12 PM

Exactly, I can't find anyone else that makes as stylish a line of switches and plates. Really adds a distinct modern finish to the room. Hope you get it all working, so please keep us posted. Project looks awesome by the way.

fouraxe 05-08-2014 03:46 AM

Where did you purchase your Ralph Lauren paint from ?


porpie 05-08-2014 04:58 AM

Originally Posted by fouraxe View Post

Where did you purchase your Ralph Lauren paint from ?


The RL web site refers you to Home Depot's web site to purchase. However, my local Home Depot doesn't carry Ralph Lauren, and I discovered on the Home Depot website that they won't ship RL paint to Connecticut. So I asked at Painter's Supply in Danbury (where I prefer to go anyway--great service) and discovered that they carry it. Not sure where you're located, but they have stores across CT and MA. Otherwise, I'd do a Google maps search for local paint supply stores in your area and call around.

porpie 05-09-2014 09:20 AM

"That was so much fun, let's paint the rest of the house this way..." said no one ever.

I painted the rest of the ceiling with the RL Suede last night. Took me about 3 hours. Tedious for sure, but I'm definitely happy with the look.

redjr 05-16-2014 08:24 PM

Hey Porpie - Your HT is taking shape nicely, You're much further along than me. smile.gif Good progress. Good to know someone else locally is working on a basement HT project. biggrin.gif - Rick

porpie 05-19-2014 11:45 AM

I'm a little behind in keeping this build thread up to date. I've been busy trying to keep things moving along, but I'm finding that at this details stage it feels like progress is glacially slow! I *think* I'm done with the painting now, except for work I'll need to do once the cabinets are installed. I put up the rest of the trim to create the panelling for the screen wall and the wainscot for the rest of the room. I also put up a steel wall panel on the other side of the stairs. This will become a magnet-wall where we can put up photos, kid's drawings, etc. I've never wanted any of that stuff on our fridge anyway! smile.gif

I got the panel from one of my clients and had them cut it to size as well as make the cut-out for the power outlet. Instinct would've had me ordering a stainless steel panel, but we needed it to be ferrous for the magnets, so I went with 16-guage regular steel. The cut-out for the power outlet was done on a water jet machine though, and as soon as water touches regular steel, it discolors and starts to oxidize. I tried using Naval Jelly to get rid of the oxidization, but obvious stains remained, so I used a 220-grit sander to buff out the entire panel. It no longer has a nice linear grain to the texture, but the random orbital and fine grit made for a pleasant finish anyway.

Getting it on the wall was marvelously easy, though I had to solicit the help of a couple of friends, as I injured my back the very morning I planned to install the panel. I used double-sided 3M tape on the back of the panel. Then we carefully positioned the panel into place, using a level to make sure everything was straight. Then I simply pushed the panel firmly against the wall, and we were done! We were all a little skeptical that merely double-sided tape could permanently affix such a heavy object to the wall, but it is rock solid!

A few photos:

stains and oxidization from the waterjet cut-out for the power outlet

shoutout to Festool for their awesome products! Great orbital sander with vacuum attachment.

About half done with the sanding; it took me about 45 minutes.

Resting the panel on sawhorses and applying the 3M tape to the back.

Panel installed, but still missing the side trim.

Waterboy77 05-20-2014 07:03 AM

shoutout to Festool for their awesome products! Great orbital sander with vacuum attachment.

Major tool envy here!
The project is looking really good.
Finishing work always seams to take the most time, but if you rush it, it will only add more time and frustration

hltr 06-17-2014 04:07 AM

Nice work man, keep it up.

DougUSMC 06-17-2014 05:13 AM

That RL suede looks like it was tough, but DEFINITELY worth it. Looks great!

vinmassaro 06-23-2014 12:51 PM

Any update on getting the LeGrand/Logitech combo working?

porpie 07-14-2014 09:08 AM


Originally Posted by vinmassaro (Post 25198929)
Any update on getting the LeGrand/Logitech combo working?

Sorry, not yet. This past month has dragged a bit for tangible progress. I had to wait for the guy doing the built-ins before I could start mounting my AV gear. The built-ins are done, but now I'm waiting for the electrician to come back and finishing the wiring inside the cabinet. Then things should start happening...

porpie 07-14-2014 10:38 AM

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Screen Installed! AV Rack Installed! Cabinets Going In Today!

The past month has felt excruciatingly slow, as visible evidence of progress has been very slow. We've accomplished a few key milestones though, and I'm rather overdue for an update. Here are a few photos of the progress:

(by the way, the method for embedding images now is pretty retarded! Hope the new AVS guys give us back a method that is a little more modern than circa 1998) :mad:

Installing panelling for the screen wall:


Panelling done for the screen wall:


I used a router to cut a channel in the panelling trim so I can run rope light behind the screen for accent lighting. I'll show a photo of that soon...


Screen in place. Center channel speaker resting on a rather classy speaker stand--the spool of rope light. My wife and I celebrated this milestone by watching a movie on the new screen. I perched the projector on saw horses and cardboard boxes, ran temporary speaker cables across the floor, and setup beach chairs. A rather rough premier for the theater, but the preview was pretty motivating!


porpie 07-15-2014 06:19 PM

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Also got some new shelves built in the unfinished side of the basement. Helps to get some of the displaced stuff put away. :-)

porpie 07-29-2014 10:50 AM

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Here are some shots of the theater-side built-in and A/V Rack. Love the custom faceplates on the A/V rack; gives a nice finished look.

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