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1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Welcome to the Phoenix Theater build thread. This post is just a placeholder for the actual final details and photos, when this is all done a year (or probably more) from now.

High Level Summary

  • One story ranch house with slump block (concrete) walls
  • Combine two bedrooms into one larger room
  • Expand new larger room by 2.5 feet, using the closets and part of the hallway
  • Vault ceiling by 4.5 inches (IF POSSIBLE)
  • Move light, switches, and solar tube in hallway
  • Support essential attic post after all support walls are removed
  • Insulate three exterior walls with 1" rigid foam, plus insulation in 2x4 wall
  • Frame "room within a room" with interior 2x4s walls
  • Frame floating joists resting on interior walls
  • Panel over interior walls with OSB + Green Glue + 5/8" Drywall
  • Create new 100 amp service panel
  • Allocate several dedicated 20A AFCI circuits for theater
  • Create new structured wiring panel
  • Create new mass loaded door (MAYBE TWO)
  • Stage
  • Riser
  • Soffits
  • Screenwall
  • DIY Acoustically transparent screen
  • 10' Screen
  • DIY Speakers
  • DIY Subwoofers
  • Nearly everything DIY


Before soundproofing: 22' 9" x 14' 4" x 8'
After soundproofing: 21' 7" x 13' 3" x 8' 3"

Build Timeline & Index

07.29.2011 - 10.16.2011 : Build new garage and wire it
10.23.2011 - 01.14.2013 : Build addition in old garage with 2 bedrooms, 1 utility room, 1 full bathroom
02.01.2013 - 11.17.2013 : Complete redo of bedroom into office (new exterior door; built-in bookcases; new desks; etc)
03.13.2013 - 11.17.2013 : Lots of other dependent or connected side projects in house

11.18.2013 - 01.04.2014 : Primary theater demo
01.31.2014 - 03.02.2014 : New bearing wall
03.03.2014 - 03.16.2014 : Removed rest of walls and joists to create final "blank canvas" for the theater!
03.17.2014 - 03.30.2014 : Insulation on exterior walls
03.31.2014 - 04.13.2014 : Paint windows and minor things
04.14.2014 - 04.27.2014 : Inside wall framing
04.28.2014 - 05.04.2014 : Moving the solar tube
05.11.2014 : Conceptual design thoughts
05.23.2014 : Soundproofing material order
05.25.2014 - 06.01.2014 : New electrical sub-panel
06.14.2014 - 06.28.2014 : Installing new floating joists
06.29.2014 : New exterior door
06.28.2014 - 07.27.2014 : Massive soundproofing theater door construction
08.06.2014 - 08.09.2014 : Applying netting with staple gun
08.10.2014 : Really dumb decision - Added outlet boxes
08.13.2014 - 08.17.2014 : Insulation and putty pads
08.17.2014 : Pre-drywall simple soundproofing tests
08.22.2014 - 08.24.2014 : Simple attic hatch
08.25.2014 - 08.30.2014 : First layer drywall
08.31.2014 - 09.01.2014 : Second layer drywall ceiling
09.02.2014 - 09.06.2014 : Zig-zag caulking
09.04.2014 - 09.14.2014 : Second layer drywall walls
09.15.2014 - 09.28.2014 : Taping and mudding
10.03.2014 : Disappointing RTA tests after drywall
10.06.2014 - 10.07.2014 : DIY Speaker and Subs discussion
10.09.2014 - 10.18.2014 : Initial stage and riser design plus riser vent discussion
10.19.2014 : Summary of recent events and decisions
10.21.2014 : Testing stage filler - Sand, Fiberglass, or Nothing : Thread Start
10.26.2014 - 10.30.2014 : Started stage testing; discusson on wiring
11.02.2014 : "Column" outlets plus equipment closet demo
11.05.2014 : Power in the theater!
11.07.2014 - 11.09.2014 : HVAC discussion and calculations
11.09.2014 : Hauling sand for the stage
11.19.2014 : Testing stage filler - Sand, Fiberglass, or Nothing : Experiment Results
11.21.2014 : Building the stage
11.23.2014 : Designing the riser
11.30.2014 : (Non-DIY) HVAC installation
12.07.2014 : One-day ad-hoc speaker build
12.07.2014 : Building a riser - framing
12.07.2014 : Building a riser - electrical
12.18.2014 : Building a riser - insulation and top
12.20.2014 : Building a riser - vent holes
12.28.2014 : Soffit overview
12.30.2014 : In-theater HVAC work
01.03.2015 : More HVAC work
01.11.2015 : Soffit framing start
01.11.2015 : Conduit start
01.18.2015 : In-theater lighting thoughts
01.19.2015 : Riser conduit finished
01.19.2015 : Soffit conduit installation
01.20.2015 - 01.23.2015 : Discussion on LED power, control, dimming, etc
01.25.2015 : Agonizing over how to make the soffits "level"
01.29.2015 - 01.31.2015 : Rethinking the chunky front soffit
02.01.2015 : Building the soffit face
02.06.2015 - 02.16.2015: The soffit as a duct (with HVAC math)
02.16.2015 : Installing the soffit's first OSB layer
02.19.2015 : Why DIY -- My personal philosophy
02.22.2015 : Installing the soffit's second drywall layer
02.28.2015 : The Road To MVP - The Plan and What It All Means
03.01.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 1 of 13 - Screenwash soffit
03.08.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 2 of 13 - Taping and mudding the soffit
03.12.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 3 of 13 - Comparing the possible projectors; buying the Panny
03.15.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 3 of 13 - Final mudding + Backer boxes for ceiling speakers
03.22.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 4 of 13 - Installing ceiling speakers, pulling speaker wire
03.30.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 5 of 13 - Reinstall automatic door bottom, seal door, retest
04.06.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 6 of 13 - Painting with primer
04.12.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 7 of 13 - Building the light tray
04.19.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 8 of 13 - Installing the light tray and recessed lighting
04.26.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 9 of 13 - Backer boxes and mounting the projector
05.03.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 10 of 13 - Attic Insulation
05.12.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 11 of 13 - Redone stage and riser trim
05.17.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 12 of 13 - Riser trim paint, temporary window plugs, carpet installation!
05.26.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 13 of 13 - Screen frame
05.26.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 13 of 13 - Screen wall construction
05.27.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 13 of 13 - Spandex screen
05.29.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 13 of 13 - Screen wall fabric panels
05.31.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 13 of 13 - MVP punchlist
05.31.2015 : The Road To MVP - Week 13 of 13 - MVP!!!
06.01.2015 : 138" 16:9 Spandex Screen and Frame - Warts and All!
Six Month Construction Break
10.11.2015 : Tentative column design
11.01.2015 : Building a prototype column
11.15.2015 : Installed prototype column
11.25.2015 : Cutting glass basics - w/ Video
12.01.2015 : Creating an exact fit dado jig - w/ Video
12.07.2015 : Building the columns (Part 1 of 2) - w/ Video
12.07.2015 : Building the columns (Part 2 of 2)
02.14.2016 : Discussion on remotes that don't suck
02.22.2016 : Building an HTPC
02.25.2016 : Installing OpenELEC in an HTPC
04.22.2016 : Installing Emby Server in OpenELEC
09.30.2016 : How to install a pull cord in conduit
10.01.2016 : A review of the Logitech Harmony Companion remote
10.07.2016 : Pulling the IR cable to the projector
10.07.2016 - 10.29.2016 : Choosing, buying, and unboxing a Denon X6200W AVR

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #2
One more reserved post, just in case.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
The Phoenix Theater Begins!

I'm a long time lurker on AVSForum and a shorter time member. I've just started on the direct work related to my upcoming theater and thought that a build thread might be a good place to document this.

I say "direct work" because the theater has been my goal ever since moving in my current house, three years ago. So far, all of my efforts have been in creating the necessary space. I'm loving the house, but alas, it didn't have any place for a decent theater. To get the space I needed, I had to build a new garage; convert the old garage into living space (two bedrooms, a utility room, and a split bathroom); completely redo the living room; and custom build a new office. That all took just less than three years (I don't work fast). The end result was two adjacent bedrooms that I was able to to tear down, giving me a space roughly 14' x 22'.

Initial pics and SketchUp will follow, but don't be expecting a huge amount of detail up front. I am purposefully delaying a lot of decisions until I need to make them, since I have a tendency towards design paralysis. I'd rather just jump in and see what happens as I go.

I do have some high level thoughts, though:
  • Room-within-a-room construction
  • Floating joists
  • Dual layer 5/8" drywall with Green Glue (or maybe one layer of OSB)
  • Beefed up and sealed door or maybe dual doors
  • Single level riser and stage with proscenium
  • 10' wide (or so) DIY screen (thinking spandex)
  • DIY speakers and subs
  • Center channel behind screen, but LR might be outside, if I make them look nice enough
  • Acoustically treated
  • 8 seats, give or take a few
  • LED lights
  • HTPC

And more. I'm going to be doing nearly everything myself, save the carpeting. I don't work fast, so if this is done in less than a year, then I'll be shocked.

Oh, and the name refers both the fact that this theater will be rising from the "ashes" of my first theater in my old house and from the fact that I live in the Phoenix area. My wife hates the name, though, so it may be changing.

A lot of this theater will look familiar to long-time AVS Forum members. That's because I have some strong influences from these threads. I'd say that my primary influences are going to be the Bacon Race, Rawlinsway Theater, Spaceman Theater, the Arthouse, and the Drifter Street Studios. There will be elements of all of them in mine.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
The Prologue

This will be the first theater I build myself, but it won't be my first. I had a bare-bones theater created for me back in 2003 -- a local company (Hi Fi Sales; now out of business) did everything. It wasn't soundproofed at all, but it was acoustically treated and calibrated by pros. At the time, it was the best sounding theater I'd ever been in.

Really, that's the hurdle than I need to jump over this time. I already had a theater that sounded nigh perfect to me 10 years ago, and since I'll be spending a lot more money on this one, it needs to sound even better. This will come up a lot in this build thread. Basically, my wife thinks that I should be happy with the equivalent to this theater plus maybe a little bit more. She's probably right, but I still want something substantially nicer! After all, all home theaters are frivolous luxuries so why stop at just barely good enough?

Here's what it looked like:

I still have most of the equipment from there, since the people that bought the house wanted the room converted back into a bedroom.

The original equipment list was:
  • Three Kinetics corner bass traps
  • Four Kinetics absorptive panels
  • One Kinetics rear wall diffuser
  • 48" Mitsubishi rear project TV
  • M&K 750 MKII THX Select LCR
  • M&K V-75 MKII Subwoofer
  • Three SpeakerCraft CRS6 One in-ceiling surrounds
  • Onkyo Integra DTR 5.3 AV Receiver
  • Sony DVP-NC655P 5-disc DVD changer
  • Headphone jack by seats
  • Theater seating from La-Z-Boy
  • Various TiVOs
  • Pronto TSU3000 remote

As time went on, I also got a Toshiba HD-DVD player, a DiVX player, and a VCR. I also replaced the hated Pronto remote with a Harmony One.

From all that, I gave away the Mitsubishi TV and recycled the Pronto. I have everything else.

The big question is what can I re-use in the new theater? The answer is; not as much as I'd like. I stream everything these days so there's no need for a DVD changer. HD-DVD never took off. The Integra receiver is nice, but has no HDMI support. The speakers are also all nice, but I'm pretty sure I can make much better ones DIY-style.

The acoustic panels are a big unknown. They were quite expensive (> $2000) so I'd like to reuse them. I just don't know if they will fit in the new space. We'll see.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
Initial Demo

I started the demo just over a month ago and am almost done. There's one fundamental thing holding me up (a support post in the attic) that is keeping me from completing this -- more on that, later.

What I had to start was two bedrooms. They looked like so:

Yep, that window is staying, along with its neighbor on the other side. They are far too nice and too expensive ($1500 each!) to just cover over permanently. My current plan is to make a "plug" to fill them in when we don't want light. The other bedroom is the same size, but had laminate flooring rather than carpet.

The rooms are less than 12' wide, so I'm going to be expanding them by removing the closets and going into the hall. That means removing the "trunk" style AC ductwork; moving a solar tube in the hall; and popping up the saltillo tile in the hall.

This shows what I had to deal with in the attic. That is a mix of loose fiberglass and cellulose insulation blown to R-50. It all needed to be removed and bagged up for later re-use. That's a thoroughly unpleasant job! The solar tube is in the foreground. And we also see the bane of my theater for the first time -- that support post in the center of the picture. It is right above the two bedroom doors right now. It is also the root cause of all of my problems right now.

There are always surprises when you demo an older house, but this particular surprise takes the cake. It turns out that a previous homeowner had put an arched opening between the two bedrooms! Why? It makes no sense. Sometime later, either that owner or the next one (we're the third set of owners) covered it up by framing it out with steel studs and then put an extra layer of drywall over both sides. So lazy.

The first look at what three of my four walls are made of -- slump block. Slump block is concrete block that has been allowed to "slump". It's very common in houses built in the southwest prior to 1990 or so. It's notably more dense than normal concrete block since it's more squished together, so it likely has better sound blocking capabilities.

More surprises! It appears that the previous homeowner liked DIY, but didn't like doing it properly. The tangle of wires on the header was as-is in the attic -- no junction box at all! It also looks like their wire wasn't long enough, so why not just splice on another piece with electrical tape -- INSIDE the wall! Yeesh.

Okay, this is my work and it's not much better, BUT it's only temporary! I need to have some power in the theater space while I'm working and so I tapped into the smoke detector circuit and am just dangling an extension cord from the attic. It's only a 15 amp circuit and so everything dims whenever I run a decent tool at the same time as my 500 watt worklight is shining... but it works.

And so that's where I was just before Thanksgiving. You might note the stacks of insulation, lumber, and doors. That's an indication of one of the reasons why the demo is taking so long. We're trying to be as "eco" as possible and do "deconstruction" rather than "demolition". That means that everything that can be reused or recycled is. The 2x2s and closet doors will be donated to a local Habitat for Humanity (and another similar store) and the fiberglass will be used in something in my theater. The old electrical bits go to a electrical recycling center (or donated if they are so-so or re-used if they are in great shape). The laminate floor was also donated. Pretty much only the drywall and carpet was put into the 'Bagster' (dumpster in a bag). I will say, though... doing it that way takes a LOT more time than just ripping everything down and throwing it all away. Sometimes I wonder how worth it it all is...

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
Trunk Trimming

The AC ductwork is a "trunk" made up of sheet steel. It needed to be truncated by about three feet in order to expand the size of the room. I haven't 100% decided what I'm going to do for climate control in the theater, but it's definitely not going to be that trunk!

I initially spent quite some time looking for an end cap in the right size. I figured that I'd just cut the duct; screw on an end cap; and tape it all up. Simple!

Er... nope. It turns out that you can't just buy an end cap for my duct. In fact, trying to find anything at all to do with rectangular ductwork was proving to be quite the pain. After some time, I learned the reason why -- all rectangular duct work is custom made on order by an HVAC contractor using a sheet metal shop that typically will only work with contractors. This is definitively NOT an established DIY space. Bummer.

Well, I still needed to cap this off and so some alternative methods would need to be employed. I decided to cut off part of the duct and fold itself up on itself to essentially make an integrated end cap. Maybe the pictures will make more sense.

It started by cutting out a chunk of the top using hand shears. That was doable and was only unpleasant because doing anything in the attic in AZ before January is unpleasant. It was around 90 up there on Nov 28. And yes, those are live wires you see. It adds to the charm of working up there.

The folded over "tabs" in each of the four corners proved far too sturdy for my hand tools and so I brought out my handy-dandy Harbor Freight sawzall and had at it. WOAH! I didn't realize that the trunk wasn't attached to anything so when I started cutting into it, the blade caught on the metal and started jerking the entire duct up and down at a high rate of speed. It was like the duct was having some kind of seizure right up there in the attic. Remember those live wires? Now picture a saw blade running at high speed thrashing about uncontrollably in the attic next to them. Oh yeah, you can see how scary that was just about then! Maybe a little fun, too, if you're into possible mortal danger.

After getting it under control, I practically stood on the duct to keep it in place while I sawed away. After it was stabilized, the sawzall made quick work of the remaining bits.

You can just barely see in that picture that the bottom piece is starting to bend up. That is my "end cap"

I bent up the mostly free piece and trimmed off a little bit on the sides so the bottom could wrap all the way around to the top. I then secured it all around with sheet metal screws with rubber gaskets.

Taped that baby up with massive amounts of duct tape. The real duct tape, made of foil.

Done! I went up into the attic when we turned the heat on for the first time, a couple weeks later, and there was not a whisper of air coming from anywhere around the truncated end. Sweet!

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #7
My Bane

And now we get to the roadblock in my expressway; the stick in my eye; the bane of my progress -- the roof support post.

I have a hip roof and the area above the theater space makes sort of a half pyramid. The center of this pyramid is right between and right above the two existing doors of the bedrooms. This center point, then, is supported by a post. This one:

You can just make it out in the center of the picture, going straight up.

It's made of three 2x6s sandwiched together and it rests on two 2x6s flat on their backs. Those, in turn, are supported by a trio of walls. All three walls will be removed in order to expand the theater size!

In fact, that's why this post is a problem. I want to both expand the room AND I want to raise the ceiling a few inches. If the theater space was remaining at just under 12' wide and 8' high, then there wouldn't be any issue at all.

That post is going to be three feet from the nearest supporting wall (I don't want it touching the inner wall at all), so that makes it tricky. There are three leading possibilities.

First, I could run a beam across from the exterior slump block wall to the new support wall on the other side. This would create a lower beam, but seeing how BIG handled the beam in the Rawlingsway theater, I can see that it's a doable proposition. I could potentially even coffer the ceiling on both sides similar to what Spaceman did. My main concern would be how to physically manage a 15' long beam that is strong enough to support the post over that span. A glulam that is big enough would weigh over 200 pounds. I have no idea how I'd raise that inside of the house.

Second, I could cantilever a beam out from the right side of the post. I could potentially put a steel post in a column on the inside of the room-within-a-room that could bring the pivot point of the beam to within two feet of the evil post. I described my thoughts on this in some more detail here: Replacing a spanned beam with a cantilevered beam . It makes a lot of sense to me and my calculations seem like it should work... but I haven't been able to get anybody with proper knowledge to agree with me. I keep wondering if maybe I'm missing something. This is my go-to idea, if only because it would mean a much smaller beam (easier to handle) and would also not get in the way of expanding the width or the height of the room at all.

Third, is one that my wife suggested and I'm mulling over. What if I put a post right underneath the evil post and wrapped a column around the whole thing. I could then post a mirrored column on the other side. There would be a gap of just less than two feet between the column and the wall. The angles all imply that the column would not be in the sightlines of anybody watching movies (even in the back row), but it's hard to say without any definitive plans. I'm not currently a huge fan of the idea, but it's there if necessary.

I originally had a structural engineer come out to give me some ideas. It was highly informal and if you've ever dealt with a Professional Engineer, you'd know that they don't like giving out ad-hoc advice, since their word has very strong legal standing. In the end, he agreed to give me some advice off-the-record as long as I paid in cash AND never mentioned his name to anybody. He stressed that if he was asked about our conversation, he'd deny we ever ever met.

His idea was the beefed up beam spanning the room. I prefer my cantilevered idea, though. Now, part of me is convinced that my common sense approach to the cantilevered beam is correct and I'd be able to do that safely, even without official approval. But we are talking about my roof and I'd strongly prefer that it not collapse on my head while I'm watching a movie. I'm particular about things like that. With that in mind, I finally caved in and contacted that structural engineer to draw me up a signed and sealed engineering plan to handle this once and for all. It'll be done sometime after the new year.

And so I wait...

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
First Plans!

I don't have any of the detailed inner plans, yet, but I do have some more concrete ideas for the next phase -- soundproofing.

My Goal: to be able to play a movie at a reasonable volume and not have it at all audible, even if you are just outside the room in the hall. I want people to be surprised that a movie is even playing, when they open the door, since they couldn't hear it at all!

This ties in pretty well with the exterior insulation, anyway. I already created an addition in the garage (which also had slump block walls) and the insulation there was Block+1" Rigid Foam+2x4 wall with R-13 fiberglass. To have the same R value plus better soundproofing, I'll just increase the gap between the foam and the 2x4 wall, and beef up the panels on the inside of the wall. It'll essentially look like:

This is from an earlier mockup I did. Since then, I decided to move the foam against the block wall rather than the interior wall (not sure if it's considered a "leaf" or not, but better safe than sorry) and to raise the height of the inner wall. The picture doesn't say so, but I'm also going to use Green Glue between the panels.

I am undecided if the inner panel will be OSB or 5/8" drywall. That OSB would certainly be better for shear strength in the freestanding wall and is more convenient for hanging stuff up... but it will have worse sound proofing.

So here's my first question: HOW WORSE is the sound proofing of OSB vs 5/8" drywall? Is it enough to notice, considering everything else I'm doing?

And second question: rather than a "pure" air gap, could I get away with stuffing the gap between the foam and the 2x4 wall with fiberglass insulation? I have a decent supply of 2" thick batts that I could compress into 1" or 2" space.

All of the existing joists will be torn down and I'll create new ones that are floating on top of the inner walls. They won't touch the exterior walls at all. In fact, there won't be ANY joists at all on the exterior walls. I think that'll be fine in my style of house, but that's an open question for the structural engineer to answer.

Here's a screenshot of my sketchup model (click to embiggen):

It shows the accurate roof angles (5.15:12), the inner wall up to 8' 4" vs the exterior wall at 8' 1 1/2"; a sample of the floating joists (2x6 @ 24" O.C); the gap between the inner and outer walls; the evil support post; and the idea that my new outside wall can actually be as high as we need. I don't yet know where the door will be.

I've attached the actual Sketchup Model if anybody wants a 3D look (zipped, since AVS Forum doesn't allow the .skp filetype):

PhoenixTheaterFraming.zip 178k .zip file


1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
I updated the first post with a high level summary and an index. It's necessarily sparse at this point, but I'm hoping that it's as useful as this or this by the time this is all done. In particular, @Spaceman 's build thread is as inspirational to me as his theater turned out to be!

I also posted a much more detailed version of my 'question two' from above here . It may not be in the right thread, though, so I might have to spin it out into its own thread.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #10

Originally Posted by granroth  /t/1508600/the-phoenix-theater-build-thread/0_100#post_24137909

I am undecided if the inner panel will be OSB or 5/8" drywall. That OSB would certainly be better for shear strength in the freestanding wall and is more convenient for hanging stuff up... but it will have worse sound proofing.

So here's my first question: HOW WORSE is the sound proofing of OSB vs 5/8" drywall? Is it enough to notice, considering everything else I'm doing?

And second question: rather than a "pure" air gap, could I get away with stuffing the gap between the foam and the 2x4 wall with fiberglass insulation? I have a decent supply of 2" thick batts that I could compress into 1" or 2" space.

I asked both questions in the Soundproofing Master Thread and got some great answers!

First, I'm now pretty convinced that I'll go with OSB instead of drywall for the first layer. It turns out that the soundproofing is only marginally worse (likely not noticeable) and the benefit of being able to screw anywhere, plus the additional shear strength for my freestanding walls, make it a much better choice -- even at 2x the price.

Second, stuffing the gap with insulation will definitely not make things better. I still haven't received direct confirmation that it would make things worse... but why tempt fate? I'll try to seal the top of the gap some other way.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Update - Jan 04, 2014

I'm still holding off on a lot of decisions until I get my support beam problem hammered out. My structural engineer comes back from holiday break on Monday, so hopefully things will start moving next week. No idea how long any of that will take.

After that, I'm going to be able to make a few more solid plans -- enough to call The Soundproofing Company and have a chat about my requirements. Looking forward to that.

I did get a little bit of work done this week. I started with some insulation. Two of the common walls will need to be insulated eventually (double wall insulation) and since it's starting to get cold, I figured that I might as well do it now. Since the theater space is now completely exposed to the elements, the temp inside there is roughly the same as the outside temp, give or take a few degrees. Yes, "cold" in AZ isn't the same as "cold" elsewhere, but it has been getting down to around 40 at night. It'll eventually dip just below freezing for a night or two. If I walk down the hall towards the theater space or go into the adjacent bathroom (with a shared common wall), I can feel the heat being sucked from me. It's not unlike the Dementors in Harry Potter... only it's just heat, and not my soul.

Anyway, I had some leftover faced 23" R-13 from my earlier addition. The common walls are all 16" O.C. and the kraft paper will just make another leaf... but neither is a substantial problem.

First, I just cut the pieces into a 15" piece and an 8" piece:

Then I just peel the kraft paper off. It's stuck to the insulation with some kind of glue-paper, but it peels off without too much fuss (if you're careful):

And then it's hung up:

That's the "pretty side". The side with the common bathroom wall doesn't look quite as proper:

Note that in the two left-most stud bays, I actually used two smaller pieces to fill out the space. Dealing with all the plumbing and electrical makes for some convoluted insulation stuffing. The one empty space does have a piece allocated for it, but it's currently being used in a more practical place for now. It'll all not ideal, since it's compressed more than I'd like, but I'm not too worried since this is under the cabinet in the adjacent bathroom. Any sound has to go through the cabinet and then through a couple walls before it gets to any living space.

Since I'm mostly done with the part of the demo that generates things that will be thrown out, I filled out the second "Bagster" with debris from my workshop and called WM to come pick them up. It came to $270 all told for the two mini dumpsters:

I've been using the hall closet as a staging area for awhile, but now it's time for that to go, as well. Everything from it is to be deconstructed for later donation. I got a new "wide angle" lens for my iPhone, so if things looks a little fish-eyed, that's why.

Here's the before and after:

And then this morning, I tackled the Saltillo tile in the hall. I needed to remove three rows of tile, to make way for the expanded room:

I start by using my angle grinder with a diamond blade to cut through the 1.5" grout in a few select places. You might think that such a thin blade couldn't generate very much mess, but you'd be oh so very wrong!

Cutting the grout generates an almost unimaginable amount of dust. This picture simply does not do justice to how thick the cloud of white dust really is. Visibility is maybe 2' while doing the cutting. That's not at all fun.

After that, I go at the tiles with a masonry chisel and my hand sledge. The goal is to "pop up" as many as the tiles as possible, since they are reasonably expensive and we intend to re-use them in a future outside project. Worst case, we'd donate them.

Being able to save them or not depends mostly on how cohesive the mastic was under the tile. Some pop right up and some just crack. I ended up saving roughly 2/3 of them (16 full pieces). Now, the hall floor is ready to go for the wall (once I know the details on what I'm going to build):

That's it for now!

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
I had a structural engineer come out today and it looks like I'm going to be pretty free with whatever I want for my design. The actual plan won't arrive until next week or so, but the high-level news is that he will design the framing to support the roof entirely outside of the theater space. He gave me some rough ideas of what to expect, but the details will be critical.

Nevertheless, what he assured me was that I am completely free to both vault the ceiling to 8' 4-1/2" and to expand the room and to pretty much put the door wherever I want. That means that I can actually start planning things out! Whoohoo!

422 Posts
That's great news, man!
keep those updates coming ...

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #15
All done!






Nah, just kidding. I was going back and forth on what to do with the speakers from my previous theater. It seemed less and less likely that I was going to re-use them in my upcoming theater and selling them would be a pain. After a bit, I decided to just install them in my living room, along with the existing 55" plasma. I have been listening to just the internal speakers for the past three years. You can feel my pain, I'm sure.

Putting them in the living room was no sure bet, since my wife was pretty opposed to the idea for quite some time. I gradually wore her down, though. Heh.

I also got that kick-ass AV rack from a friend, and bought a Denon AVR-1613 on eBay for $200. Quite a steal!

This room doesn't have any acoustic treatments and I only installed the LCR+Sub (no surround), but the difference in sound is just staggering. I can trivially fill our entire house with sound. That little M&K subwoofer is enough to literally shake the house. I discovered that I have quite a few things hanging from the walls that buzz when watching the pod landing scene from War of the Worlds.

The fact that those speakers could have such an outsized impact on my house just re-solidifies my resolve to have proper soundproofing in my theater. The sonic output of whatever speaker setup I go with is going to dwarf the M&K output and if those can be heard clearly in every single room in the house, I can't imagine what would happen with the new setup sans soundproofing.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #16
Well, I got the framing plans from my structural engineer and it's nothing unexpected. I will say, though, that since it's out of my comfort zone, I find myself approaching it tentatively.

The actual plan is quite detailed, but here's the high level:

There are two main parts visible in that plan. The first is to relocate a bearing wall and support post (yes, the "evil" support post mentioned several times earlier) roughly three feet south. This will require a new footing for the bearing wall. Creating the wall and moving the post is well within what I'm comfortable with, but I've already decided not to tackle the footing. It helps that both of the structural engineers were adamant that I not try to do that part myself! Fair enough.

The second main part was new as of the inspection. See that valley beam in red on the left of the framing plan? That's a 2x6 and the engineers were aghast that it ever passed code. That should have been at least a 2x8, if not a 2x10. And it shows... the beam is actually bowed in the center. You can just about see it in this picture:

The plan calls for sistering another 2x6 on that one, to strengthen it, and to attach all of the rafters to the new beam using Simpson connectors. Note that the current rafters are connected to the existing beam with just a couple nails each -- there is nary a joist hanger or hip support in the entire attic.

This is something that I could do, but I will admit, is beyond what I've ever done and I'm not 100% sure on the steps needed to do it. Basically, each of the rafters needs to be trimmed back 1-1/2" or so and a new 2x6 inserted in between them and the existing beam. The two questions I have that need to be answered are:

1. How do I cut those rafters without affecting the roof? Maybe combination of sawzall and a hand saw?

2. Is it safe to just cut those away (temporarily) or do they need to be braced while I'm working there?

I tend to procrastinate when I'm unsure of the next step, but I need to get this done before continuing, so I'm going to push myself forward.

RETIRED theater builder
34,251 Posts
If I understand your task, you need to build temporary supports as you cut a 1 1/2 inches off those pitched framing members. Are you going to try to jack up the bowed section when you sister another piece on the side?

Getting the cuts done accurately inserting the new beam and fitting in the sistered piece is not going to be easy and frankly not a DIY without some assistance. It is a project I wouldn't touch myself.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #18

Originally Posted by BIGmouthinDC  /t/1508600/the-phoenix-theater-build-thread/0_100#post_24243382

If I understand your task, you need to build temporary supports as you cut a 1 1/2 inches off those pitched framing members. Are you going to try to jack up the bowed section when you sister another piece on the side?

Getting the cuts done accurately inserting the new beam and fitting in the sistered piece is not going to be easy and frankly not a DIY without some assistance. It is a project I wouldn't touch myself.

Yeah, I'm sort of going down that path now. I have a couple questions in with my engineer and if he suggests any kind of temporary bracing or jacking needed, then I'm almost surely going to hire it out.

The jacking up of the bowed section is actually one of my bigger questions. I could see the possible benefit of just leaving that bowed section in situ since it's entirely possible the current roof covering (asphalt shingles) was done with the bowed roof. If I jacked it up, it's possible in my mind that it could expose some cracks or holes in the roofing.

I tell you, though... this extra three feet that I'm getting is going to cost me a decent chunk of change, so it darn well better be worth it!!

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
Update - Feb 03, 2014

Some progress (albeit little) at last! I needed a new footing created for the new bearing wall needed to expand my room and the contractor came out today. Based on how much grunt work was needed for that, I'm doubly glad that I farmed that out.

They first jackhammered up the slab and then dug down 18" in pretty hard clay and rock. That took three hours of continuous work by a couple guys. I was working a few rooms over and measured the noise at 90 dB (worked with ear plugs). It was substantially louder at the source (didn't measure it)... but the guys doing the jackhammering didn't wear any hearing protection at all! Eh? How can they hear anything at this point?

The plan called for two levels of rebar. I got a picture of the first one placed, but didn't catch the second being installed. I trust 'em.

They installed three J-bolts for fastening down the bottom plate. For the first time, I can visually see where the new theater wall is going to be.

Honestly, it doesn't look like that much space. I have to think of it from the point of view that it's roughly the size of the steps on the side of the riser. That was my concern earlier -- that the width of the room was narrow enough to cause problems with the seating and columns and such. This extra 2.5 ft should make all the difference in the world, for that.

BTW, I did finally decide to fix up the bowed valley beam myself. Since it's not directly related to the theater, though, I'm likely going to put off actually doing it for a bit.

1,484 Posts
Discussion Starter #20
Update - Feb 09, 2014

I started on the new bearing wall today. It's slow going, since I need to keep from disrupting our working space as much as possible. Once I have a sealed off "theater space", then I can go nuts.

The first step was putting down the pressure-treated lumber and then cutting out the space in the drywall for the far stud on one side of the wall. That looks like so:

You can tell the PT plate is from Home Depot, due to its brown color. Not sure why HD has brown PT but Lowes has green. Anyway, the bottom plate spans the entire hallway for now. I'll cut out the doorway part after the rest of the framing is done.

Just ripping down the ceiling isn't an option since that would expose the attic to living space. Two of the folks in my household have asthma that is aggravated by dust, too, so it's doubly important to do this with as much precision as possible. As a result, in order to get my 8' stud up through the ceiling, I needed to cut a precise hole:

The ceiling in the hall is lowered by just more than a foot, so I had to go up in the attic to cut away space for the incoming stud:

The metal tube you see in that photo, btw, is part of a disconnected solar tube. It was smack dab in the middle of where my wall is going to be, so it had to go. In the meantime, the top half is still connected to the roof and so I get some sweet light in the attic as I'm working now.

Speaking of the attic, though... you know how it's the middle of winter and much of the country is still dealing with blizzards and record colds? It's the upper 70s where in AZ and whenever that happens, the temp in the attic starts climbing. Here's what I was dealing with today:

In the end, I got both of the studs on the extreme sides of the wall up. Here's one side. The tape is to seal off openings to the attic:

My goal for the coming week is to finish the framing for this wall and, if I am lucky, to actually start on sheathing it (3/4" particle board and drywall -- no Green Glue since it's an exterior wall).
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