The Bedroom & Walk-in Closet/Laundry Room

click to magnify The bedroom. (4 photos).

The bestest home remodeling webpage ever: The bedroom is a room with a bed and a closet. Eventually it will be a room with a bed and a doorway to another room that's a closet. 'Nuff said.

Okay, so perhaps that's not all I should say…
Originally the house was a two-bedroom residence, however that second bedroom was very small (roughly 7-feet by 7½-feet). While we lived here as renters we used that little room as our office for a few years, even though it was pretty cramped. After we bought the place and started work on the old screen porch (around about 2005 – see the Genkan page), we moved our offices to that space, and also got the laundry off the porch and into that little back bedroom. Since then, the room has just been a "catch-all" for building supplies that needed to stay inside so they wouldn't freeze (see the photos at left).

The main bedroom also got some significant changes early on, when we re-located the house entry from the living room to the old screen porch/genkan, then made the room a little over 4-feet wider, as seen in the photos on the Windows page of the Exterior section. Other than that, the room has pretty much been sitting un-touched for nearly 20 years with white insulation and sheet plastic on the walls. I'm very pleased to finally be making some progress in there.

Bedroom Design & Planning

click to magnify The original plan from 2009 (1 sheet).

Workin' Out the Details: Summer 2023
We've had a good idea of how we want the bedroom and closet laid out, and even had a couple options approved by an engineer back in 2009 which were discussed on the main Interior page. While that plan provided a general idea of where the walls would end up, things became less straightforward when starting the actual framing work. There is almost nothing in the house that's level, plumb, or square, so trying to lay out walls gets a little strange. I dealt with all this funkiness as best I could when working on the living room ceiling, the fusuma door header, and the tokonoma framing (all described on the Living Room page), which now give me a couple of reference surfaces to work from for the bedroom and closet walls: I know the line of the kitchen floor and the bathroom wall is straight, the bathroom wall is plumb, and the fusuma door header is perpendicular to the kitchen floor/bathroom wall, level, and centered exactly between the living room and bedroom.

To determine exactly where the new attic access hatch would be located, along with the walls between the bedroom and closet, I would need to get a fair amount of demolition work taken care of in order to allow me access to existing framing to make measurements. The attic had to be emptied to get at and remove the old attic flooring, then the bedroom ceiling tiles and furring strips all had to go away too. The last bit to be removed is the old wall between the front bedroom and back bedroom — which is a bearing wall that holds up the ceiling joists for this half of the house. I'll get in to dealing with that below.

Once everything was stripped down to the original framing (July 2023, more or less), I then set about getting a couple sets of plans created that show exactly what is in place, as well as where the new framing needs to be. I started with the ceiling, as I want to make that level as I had done in the living room. The bedroom ceiling wasn't as out of whack as the living room, but this is where things started to get a little more complicated.

click to magnify As usual, I made some plans before getting too far along (9 sheets).

The living room ceiling joists span a roughly 26-foot opening with no bearing walls in between. They are supported from above with "Fink" style trusses in the attic. I'm pretty sure when they originally built the place they attached the ends of the joists to the rafters at the perimeter walls, then jacked up the center of the joist and attached the truss boards, which "pre-loaded" the joists so they wouldn't sag when the attic was filled with stuff. That's the only explanation I can manage for why the center of the 26-foot span is four or five inches higher than each end.

Anyway, the ceiling joists over the bedrooms and bathroom have no truss boards attached because they sat on the old walls near their centers, so those joists are a little closer to level (they're only off a couple inches from the center to each end). The joist that's attached to the end wall is the worst of the bunch, which is about 4-inches higher at the center. This area of the attic is also where we're going to install a larger attic access hatch, which means cutting through a ceiling joist or two. I would also like to try and keep this half of the attic free of the "sorta truss" boards that were in the other half of the attic (or at least do something other than "Fink" trusses) to keep the center of this area more open for storage space. I think I've finally gotten all these considerations worked out in the plans (also available as Bedroom Plans PDF). Now I just need to get to work building the space.

Building the Bedroom

Replacing the Old Underlayment: Winter 2021-2022
Once more a friend that's also renovating his house gave me a call in December 2021 to say he was getting a dumpster, and all they had available was a 20-yard unit, even though he only needed a 10-yard unit. They gave him the 20-yard at a discount, so he asked if I had anything to put in it. Of course I did! I'd purchased one of those Waste Management "Bagster®" things years ago with the intention of filling it with the Homasote® ceiling and the linoleum floor. The same friend had already gotten rid of most of the Homasote® when he got a dumpster back in 2017. Now with another dumpster available, I could get all the linoleum tile and plywood underlayment removed, and finally get after that foil faced tar paper that had been fighting against my radiant floor heat since I noticed it back in 2009. All that is to say that after Christmas of 2021, the lovely bride and I got after the original linoleum floors (yes ‐ that's what we did for our Christmas holiday — no idea why she still puts up with me).

click to magnify We finally made some progress on the bedroom (3 photos).

There were a couple spots in the living room and bedroom where small pieces of the old underlayment had already been removed, so those locations allowed me to get a prybar under the existing underlayment to get started. Because the paper beneath the underlayment hadn't been glued down, the old sheets of plywood came up without too much trouble. It had been nailed down with small twisted-shank flooring nails about 1-1/2-inches long, but as long as I started the prybar between the nails, each sheet popped up pretty well. It's likely that the linoleum tiles from the 1950's were made with Asbestos, but I wasn't actually cutting anything to make airborne sawdust, so I wasn't too worried about it. After re-arranging the furniture as needed, we'd pop up a sheet, then bend all the protruding nails over and carry the thing outside. The task started in the living room, then we worked our way across the house to finish in the bedroom. We didn't do the small bedroom/walk-in closet space, since I didn't want to try to move the washer and dryer, and the three shelves full of building materials and supplies (we call it "the hardware store"). That room only has two sheets of old floor in it, so I can put those in the Bagster® when work progresses to that room later on.

My friend brought over his pick-up truck and we took the stack of old flooring to his place, then we stopped by Home Depot on the way back and grabbed a heap of 7/16-inch OSB underlayment. I figured this would go down pretty fast with the medium crown pneumatic stapler and 1-inch staples. I also intended to glue it all down with sub-floor adhesive. There seems to be some disagreement on the 'net regarding whether or not to glue down new underlayment (since gluing it makes later floor replacement a huge pain — especially if installing new tile or other glued flooring). As we intend to use engineered "floating" flooring, I have no problem gluing down the underlayment. The original subfloor had not been glued down either (so it has always creaked and squeaked quite a bit), so I was planning to fill the gaps between the subfloor boards with glue where ever the gap aligned over a floor joist. That would let the new adhesive sort of squish in between and under the old boards and help eliminate the squeaking as the new stuff went down. As each sheet of OSB was going down, I'd whack all the old subfloor board nails to tighten them up, adding some 2-1/2-inch screws as needed, then apply the adhesive and staple down the new OSB. A few days later, the bedroom had the new underlayment installed (and there was a noticeable difference in the heating, now that the damn foil was gone). We got the furniture back in place and moved on to the living room, which was going to be a little more challenging (installation photos and more stuff about the underlayment project may be found over on the Living Room page.)

Leveling the Ceiling: Summer 2023
After getting the old bedroom ceiling tiles and furring strips removed to measure everything for the plans as mentioned above, I have no intention of leaving the room with a plastic sheet for a ceiling for years like I'd done in the living room. All the old walls are gone, but since there's nothing stored in this half of the attic, I'm going to hold off on building the new walls until I've finished leveling the ceiling. I also think it will be a lot easier to build walls that fit to the leveled ceiling joists, so it's back to making long shims as I had done in the living room. I have a decent pile of straight-grained Douglas Fir 2x4s from the wall studs and top and bottom plates from the old walls, so that should provide enough stock to cut all the shims I'll need for the leveling project.

click to magnify Leveling the bedroom ceiling (11 photos).

When I did the living room ceiling leveling work, I started by figuring out where the lowest spot of the ceiling was in the room and worked my way across all the joists from there. For the bedroom however, I did things a little differently — I began by mounting the laser level near the middle of the far wall, and adjusted it up and down to try and find a good balance between getting the majority of the ceiling level, but trying to avoid making it the same level as the living room. The fusuma doors, door header, and door header trim will create a visual break between the living room and the bedroom, so making the ceiling the same level seems like it will just use a lot of wood and shouldn't be necessary (the living room shims were over 6-inches thick on the last few joists near the bathroom wall). The only real "view" of the bedroom ceiling will be from the entryway when the fusuma doors are open, so the main goal is to ensure the ceiling is level at the far end of the bedroom where it meets the end wall. If the bedroom ceiling has a little slope where the old front porch used to be, I'm not gonna worry about it — it will be difficult to get into a position where that would even be noticeable.

So it worked out that shooting the laser line on the far wall showed that the worst of the ceiling was in the corner where the old bedroom wall used to be. With a little tweaking I was able to make it so if the new bedroom ceiling is leveled to the top of the fusuma door header, that should make almost the entire area level, and will certainly take care of anything that's visible from the entryway. Scribing, cutting, then gluing & screwing the shims in place went along well enough without difficulty. I did have to do some careful measuring to properly mark the new hatch location (not gonna put shims under joists I'll be cutting off in a week or two), as well as to mark the new bedroom wall location (to ensure I'll have level joists to rest on the new wall top plate). After a couple weeks of this carryin' on, the bottoms of bedroom ceiling joists were all level. The final tasks for the ceiling framing was to get all the blocking installed around the perimeter, then refer back to the plans and get a handful of more blocking installed as needed to support the final ceiling panel joints. I even remembered to get the electrical boxed in place for the bedroom ceiling light and the smoke alarm strobe over the bed. I think we're going to install a pair of 4-inch recessed lights on each side of the bed as well, but those will wait until the new bedroom wall is in place (since it will have the light switches and wiring in it) and the ceiling "underlayment" is ready to go up. Now it's back to the attic to get the new truss boards and attic floor framing installed so I can cut the joists for the hatch.

Bedroom Attic Work: Summer 2023
When I re-built/raised the attic floor over the living room earlier this year, I documented that work in the Mechanical section of the site within the Energy Efficiency page (since I basically put in the insulation over that half of the house at the same time, so it made sense to me to discuss it over there). The work in the attic over the bedroom is a little different however, since I first need to get the truss boards installed to properly support the ceiling joists (and then cut the new hatch opening and build the new bedroom wall) before I can put up the new vapor barrier and ceiling "underlayment" plywood. Then I can proceed with the attic floor rebuild and install the insulation. All that is to say that I'll be discussing the attic truss work here on the bedroom page.

click to magnify Bedroom attic work (8 photos).

Based on the first page of the Bedroom Plans (above), all of the truss layout is dependent upon establishing an attic centerline that's perpendicular to the fusuma door header (which is centered in the main house and perpendicular to the kitchen floor line/bathroom wall). When I did the attic floor work over the living room, I used the laser level to shoot a line along the ridge board in the attic and made that the centerline for the raised floor framing. That's not going to work for the bedroom, as I want the new hatch and bedroom wall to be properly "square" to the door header and bathroom wall (and I already marked the locations for the hatch and the new wall square to the header). So before I stapled up the old temporary bedroom plastic sheeting one last time, I set up the laser level in the bedroom, and shot a cross-line aligned with the center of the header, and as close as I could get it to the centerline of the attic near where I had stopped the raised floor work for the living room. This line was then marked on all the bedroom ceiling joists as the new attic centerline. That should do the job to ensure any framing and truss work in the attic will be aligned properly for the new bedroom wall and hatch opening.

With the proper centerline established in the attic, I could then measure over to get the right location for where each angled truss board should intersect the ceiling joist (7' 10" from the centerline). I screwed down a straight furring strip to act as a guide, then it was out to the wood shop to prep all the stock for the trusses. I had a decent pile of old attic floorboards, so those were ripped to about 4-inches wide, and cut to length. I also cut a handful 8-inch long chunks of 2x4 to add to the rafters, as most of the ceiling joists have a 2x4 tacked to their side at this and of the attic (which acted as "joist extensions" for the old front porch ceiling).

Installation begin with tacking up the chunks of 2x4 on the rafters that needed the spacer for the truss board to line up correctly with the joist. These were installed with construction adhesive, clamped in place, then a few 10d nails were driven home on each side with the palm nailer. The angled truss boards went in next, first with a bit of construction adhesive, then brought up against the furring strip for alignment and attached using 1-1/4-inch long medium-crown staples. The furring strip didn't need to be re-located for the vertical trusses (the backs of the verticals are supposed to be 7' 8-3/4" from the centerline, and the furring was exactly 2-1/4" wide), so those all went in using the same method as the angled trusses. I also checked each one with the 2-foot level to ensure it was plumb before stapling it in place. The back of the attic over the closet also got a handful of truss boards installed, mostly to support the raised attic floor framing that will come later. I went through the same steps as the front trusses — screw down a furring strip for alignment 7' 10" from the attic centerline, then attach the truss boards at 90° to the rafters with adhesive and staples. This first bunch of truss boards went in without much difficulty, although working in the 90°F+ attic in August wasn't exactly fun.

click to magnify One more plan for some extras in the ceiling (1 sheet).

More Bedroom Ceiling Stuff: Summer 2023
With the initial truss work taken care of in the attic, my next task was to address a couple remaining items for the bedroom ceiling before tackling the closet demo work and getting the new walls built. We decided to add a couple 4-inch recessed lights on each side of the bed near the head board, and there's pretty much no way to get at the top of the fixture at the front of the house. I determined I'd need to attach a short length of 14/2 wire to the fixture, then seal all the little openings in the housing before installing the thing (even though these are "insulation-contact, air-tight" ICAT fixtures, I still usually slather all the little openings with foam from above after they're installed). The window centerline had already been marked on the joists, so it was no big deal to measure and install the fixtures once the caulk on the front unit had cured.

The other thing I wanted to get taken care of may seem a little odd, but now's the time to deal with it… If you've read through the details of the Bathroom Fixtures section of the Bathroom page (which was completed 10 years ago), you may have noticed that we installed grab bars near the toilet and in the shower, along with a fold down seat in the shower. We figured it would be good to have these available for the future, and it's much easier to get all the blocking in place to support them while doing the framing, rather than waiting until they're needed and having to tear everything apart to install them. Now we're going to do the same thing for the bedroom while the ceiling is completely open. We're not planning to install grab bars next to the bed (although that's not a terrible idea), but instead we'd like to add a "grab handle" that hangs from the ceiling on each side of the bed. If you've ever had any manner of abdominal surgery, this will make perfect sense — trying to sit-up and get out of bed during recovery is nearly impossible without assistance — or something to grab from above. The tricky part is to figure out how to install these things and not have it look like our bedroom is some manner of discipline room with straps hanging from the ceiling over the bed!

click to magnify A couple more ceiling items installed from below (6 photos).

After browsing the web a bit for various "ceiling mount overhead assist handles", I figured out these things are called "trapeze handles". Most of what I found were pretty flimsy lookin' things that mounted with a loop screwed into a ceiling joist with lags, or an actual grab bar mounted on the ceiling with a hook that slid along the bar for the handle. Either that, or they're a floor to ceiling pole with a handle on the side, or all manner of mobile stands and hospital bed mounted stuff. None of that was going to do the job as I'd hoped, until I stumbled across some mounts for swing sets and porch swings or exercise stuff. Now we were getting some where…

I selected a pair of "heavy-duty" stainless-steel, 1,200 lb. capacity, 360°+180° swing hangers with bearings for the swivel eye and bushings for the back-and-forth pivot from Amazon at about $25 each for the ceiling mounted anchors. I figured I could put each of these inside a 6-inch square box above the finished ceiling to hide them, then mount them to some 2-by stock that spans a few joists to spread the load. I placed the edge of the box right where a ceiling panel edge will be for the finish ceiling above each side of the bed, so the little 6x6 cut-out in the finish ceiling should barely be noticeable. The initial support is a chunk of 2x8 that's glued and screwed between the top edge of two joists above the box location, then another 2x4 is glued and screwed to the tops of four more joists spanning the 2x8. The mounting box was then clamped in position, marked, and cut to match the leveled ceiling joist bottoms, and finally the hangers were mounted with long bolts through the top of the box, the 2x8, and the 2x4, and cinched down with a couple fender washers, lock washers, and nuts from above. The actual handle and strap (probably a stainless-steel "swing chain" rather than a fabric strap) will have to wait until the bed is built to get the length correct, but this will do for now.

click to magnify The last of the old flooring goes away (6 photos).

Replacing the Closet/Laundry Room Underlayment: Summer 2023
While waiting for the assist handle hangers and hardware to show up (above), I took a couple days re-arrange all the bins and shelves from the closet/laundry room so I could finally get the last of the old linoleum tiled underlayment and foil-faced paper removed. The first sheet popped up pretty easily with a couple pry bars and was hauled outside to get tossed in the Bagster® eventually. However, before putting down a new sheet of OSB, I measured and marked out where the new walls are going to be. I had poured some concrete post bases down in the crawl space years ago, which were called for by the engineer to support the king studs on the new walls. With the old floor gone and the big gaps in between the sub-floor boards, I was able to poke a couple long wire rods (a couple Simpson® Insulation Supports from a box of the things I've had forever) through the floor joist space and the foil insulation below to mark the centers of the new stud locations. After the walls are built I'll get back under the house and get some posts in place, but the wire rods should do fine as markers in the mean time.

I got the first sheet down with plenty of sub-floor adhesive and the medium-crown stapler, then moved the washer, dryer, and the couple of nearly empty shelves on to the new sheet to clear off the last couple pieces of old flooring. As long as the room was empty, I also pulled down the last of the ceiling tiles and furring strips, which means there is no longer any of the original interior carpentry work anywhere in the house! The final two sheets of 7/16" OSB went down without issues, and the space is ready for new walls — after I fiddle with the washing machine hook-up a bit, since the room is still mostly empty and now's the time.

Re-working the Closet Laundry Hook-up: Summer 2023
When we installed the new drain lines during the initial plumbing upgrades back in 2008, we pretty much just put the washing machine hook-up near the center of the existing wall and called it good enough. That did the job to get the laundry moved from the old screen porch utility room (where it would freeze during the Winter) into the closet/laundry room space so we could do laundry with our new washer & dryer. As we are now ready to get after the carpentry work for the bedroom walls that define the dimensions for the laundry room, it's time to get the laundry hook-up into its final position.

click to magnify The washing machine hook-up from 2008 gets moved (5 photos).

However, figuring out where to put the thing is a bit complicated by recent improvements to laundry equipment — LG® has some very attractive WashTower™ stacked units that combine the washer & dryer into a single unit with the controls all centered between the two components, while GE® and LG® both make "all-in-one" units that do washing and drying in the same machine. And then there's the stuff from Míele thats quite compact, and uses a heat pump in the dryer (with no vent and which runs on 115VAC). There's nothing wrong with our current laundry equipment, but we're thinking about upgrading to something different which could have a big effect on the available floor space in the new laundry room (most likely the LG® WashTower™)

Regardless of what we decide for future laundry equipment upgrades, the location of the washer hook-up doesn't need to stay in the center of wall. It can easily be moved over a foot or so to get tucked into the corner a bit more. This will still work fine for our existing stuff, but also allow the WashTower™ connection without having supply hoses run across the wall. We left plenty of extra PEX supply tubing on the original hook-up connections, and there's just enough space in the next wall stud bay to fit the P-trap in there with the drain vent pipe.

Moving the hook-up meant I needed to get a new Oatey® Quadtro® wall box (and I went for the one with the hammer arrestors while I was at it), since the existing one used the expanded PEX connectors, and I prefer the connectors that use the crimp clamps (as I don't have an expander). While waiting for that to arrive, I also had to address the wiring for the washing machine, future counter-top wall plugs, and future under-cabinet lights, since the existing electrical boxes would all need to be re-arranged as well. That meant I needed to re-route some wiring in the attic, as the junction box that provides power to the everything on this wall was going to interfere with the new hatch location too. I also wasn't happy with that power supply anyway: The washer was fed by a 15A circuit breaker (originally installed just as a "laundry room lighting" circuit), which meant I needed to use a GFCI plug for the washer. That feed is now split at the junction box in the attic to connect to the washer GFCI plug (which I'll replace with a 15A outlet, rather than the 20A one that's there now), then sent to a separate wall box to supply the hard-wired under-cabinet light's switch. For the counter-top plugs (one where the old hook-up box was, and another about a foot from the left wall corner), I was able to feed those with some new wire from the bathroom's towel warmer & floor plug circuit. That circuit is on a 20A GFCI circuit breaker which can support a couple more outlets without a problem, and I was able to add the wiring for the new outlets at the towel warmer's wall box. These few changes to the wiring also warranted an update to the wiring plans (PDFs are over on the Specifications page) to keep them accurate and up to date — something I've been needing to take care of for a long time.

The final thing to address for the laundry move was the dryer vent connection, which is usually a pain to get at. To deal with that, I purchased a MagVent™link opens a new window MV-180 dryer vent kit from Lee Valley Tools years ago when they first came out, and I could now get the thing installed at long last. Oh, and these MagVent™ things are really nice, and worth every penny for the headache they remove — certainly check the link to have a look. Anyway, all this laundry hook-up movin' stuff was to try and "future-proof" the laundry connections, so I did the same thing for the dryer vent… I looked up the height of the vent connection for the WashTower™, then added a little framing to the stud bay where the vent pipe comes up into the wall. Rather than later finish this section with wallboard, I then cut a piece of 1/2" thick plywood of the proper length to cover the area (which will get covered with wallpaper, eventually). The hole for the vent works for the current location, but then the whole thing can be flipped (and a couple feet of 4-inch pipe added within the wall to put the elbow at the top), and that'll put the vent hole at the correct height to connect to the WashTower™ vent outlet. With the venting worked out, I swapped the 20A GFCI for a proper 15A unit, and also put the correct "Decora" style plugs and switch in the other wall boxes. I then put some insulation back in the wall (only a couple inches thick to help with sound deadening), and we're able to do laundry once more!

click to magnify Building the new bedroom/closet walls (9 photos).

Building the New Closet/Laundry Room Walls: Late Summer 2023
With the washer & dryer back in position, I was ready to get busy on the wall framing for the walk-in close/laundry room. Building these walls was a little odd, in that I kinda needed to "work backwards" in order to ensure the new walls end up level and plumb — the floor is not level and the perimeter walls is not plumb, so I started with the 2x6 header construction for the wall with the doorway. Since the ceiling is level and the joists are marked perpendicular to the house centerline (the fusuma door header), getting the header in position would then provide a reference point from which to get the dimensions for the rest of the wall framing. The new header was built in the shop, then clamped in place and held in position with a couple countersunk, 6-inch long FastenMaster® TimberLOK screws up through the header and into the ceiling joists. With the header up I could then determine rest of the framing dimensions to cut and assemble the first wall in the shop. I also added some bits of furring strip to the ceiling joists to mark the positions for the top plates of the other two wall sections, which I then used to create plumb marks on the underlayment for the remaining wall bottom plates.

The first wall was banged together outside, then got an angled piece of stock temporarily screwed to the studs to keep the 90° angle between the top plate and the door frame, and brought inside for installation. It slid right into place, and after a little tweaking with the 6-foot level to ensure the door frame and studs were plumb, it was fastened into position. The wall "extension" for the existing bathroom wall was next, built outside in the same way as the first wall — lots of careful measurements from the furring strips and floor marks, then assembled, braced, and moved inside for installation. However before this wall was fastened into position, it revealed a bit of a problem with the existing bathroom wall framing. The face of the end stud for the existing wall between the bathroom and closet had a pretty significant bow, and bumped out nearly a 1/4-inch along its length from the top and bottom plates along where the new wall "extension" was supposed to go. Rather than install the new wall flush with the existing proud stud (which would have put a "hump" in the wall board for that wall surface), I decided it would be best to remove the extra material from the old stud before installing the new wall. I removed the nails that held the stud in place, then got after the worst of it with the old No. 40 Scrub plane. I followed that with a No. 5 Jack plane with the new wall temporarily in place to even everything up, and then did a final surface clean-up with the belt sander before putting new fasteners back through the stud. I then put the second wall in place, again checking for plumb and square, and fastened it into final position.

The third wall section was mostly assembled inside, now that I had a more reference surfaces for dimensions. It started with the corner post for the new door and door header assembled in the shop (two 2x4s with a 1//2" ply core), but then everything else was cut outside and assembled on the floor inside. That last wall went up without much bother, was double-checked for plumb and square, and nailed into place. Now I just need to get into the crawl space and get a couple posts into position to support the new door frame, and the wall work will be complete.

After I finished the new hatch opening framing and got a fresh sheet of plastic vapor barrier on the ceiling (see below), it was down to the crawl space to get the support posts into place. You may recall I had stuck a couple stiff wires through the old subfloor to mark the locations for the posts before I put down the new underlayment, and thankfully I found that both wires were in a decent position above the footings so the posts would actually do what they're supposed to do. I marked the insulation around the wires, then removed the wires and cut through the insulation to get at the floor joists. I added a chunk of 2x8 to each side of the floor joist below the door posts, held securely with construction adhesive and a couple 4-inch long FastenMaster® TimberLOK screws through everything. The insulation was then stapled back in place, and the cuts I had made were sealed with foil tape. I then scrounged up a couple chunks of pressure-treated 6x6 I'd been saving from when I built the bamboo fence, and cut them to fit leaving both pieces about 3/16" long. The extra length should compress the double-bubble insulation and slightly pre-load the floor joists when I get them in place. It was then back under the house with the posts and a hand mallet, and the posts were knocked into place and checked for plumb. With that done, the new walls are ready for wiring and wall board!

click to magnify Cutting the ceiling joists (5 photos).

Framing the New Attic Access Opening: Late Summer 2023
With the new walls in place to support the ceiling joists, I was able to finally get after creating the new attic hatch opening. Before I got to cutting ceiling joists however, I decided to make a minor change to the dimensions of the hatch. I had originally planned to make the hatch opening roughly 5-feet long for no specific reason (mostly to avoid bumpin' my head into the ceiling when going up the step tansu) but while working that out in the bedroom plans, it had been buggin' me that the seams of the finished ceiling wouldn't line up with the end of the hatch opening. It finally dawned on me that I could just make the hatch opening a few inches longer so the ceiling panel seam ended up centered on the joist for the hatch opening – problem solved!

I had already marked all the ceiling joists using the laser level to create a new attic centerline, and to designate the new hatch joist position back when I was getting the ceiling level. I just re-located the hatch joist cut line to align with the future ceiling panel seams, and was ready to make the cuts, mostly… Before sawing through the ceiling joists, I got into the attic and re-arranged the sheets of OSB that were up there to get all weight off the joists I would be cutting, and then screwed down a furring strip to span the joists as well. I then put my "third hand" supports in place to hold up each joist, and grabbed the circular saw. I double checked the cut line, then standing on an old milk crate I clamped a speed-square to the joist to guide the saw, and cut through the first joist. Nothing moved after the cut (which is a good thing), so then I squeezed myself up through the old hatch opening on the ladder, and cut both joists above the laundry room. That allowed me to remove the longer chunk of the two joists I'd need to cut, along with the old short piece above the bathroom wall. I then cut off the remaining joist from below without any difficulties.

Before the new hatch opening framing continued, I then added a couple temporary, vertical "king truss" boards to the two freshly cut joists so I could get the third hands out of the way. Prior to installing the cross member that was in the bedroom, I shaved off a tiny bit of the bottom end of the new 2x6 and the two cut joists so the joist hangers wouldn't stick down below the bottom of the joists when installed (although I didn't bother for the hangers above the laundry room). The new cross members were then installed for the ends of the opening with a pair of 20d sinkers at each joist intersection, as well as the piece for the length of the opening above the closet wall. Each joist intersection then got a Simpson Strong-Tie® LUS26 hanger installed with a load of 10d nails. I then removed the temporary truss boards, and installed the proper, 4-inch wide, vertical "king truss" boards with constructions adhesive and the medium crown stapler. Making the new hatch doors will need to wait until the 1/4" thick "ceiling underlayment" is installed and the new attic floor is in place. However, getting the new hatch opening solidly framed means I'm essentially now finished with all rough carpentry work for the house.

click to magnify The bedroom ceiling "underlayment" goes up (3 photos).

Installing the Bedroom Ceiling "Underlayment": Fall 2023
Next up for the bedroom and closet was to replace that old temporary plastic sheet ceiling with a proper vapor barrier, then get the 1/4" thick ceiling "underlayment" installed for the bedroom. A new sheet of 6-mil plastic was stapled up, taped, and caulked in late September, then I finished up the wiring while waiting for my friend to become available for a supply run with his truck. In early October we managed to make the time for a Lowe's run, which got us the 1/4" underlayment plywood for the bedroom ceiling, a few sheets of 1/2" GWB for the closet ceiling, and a couple more sheets of 7/16" OSB for the attic floor.

So the reason for Lowe's rather than the usual Home Depot supply run was to get some actual 1/4" thick plywood that wasn't too expensive. A few years ago a 1/4" thick Birch plywood sheet was around 25 bucks for a 4 x 8 sheet, and now it's over $60 a sheet! I was trying to find something for the ceiling "underlayment" that was under $30 per sheet (and was actually a 1/4" thick, and not 5mm, which is closer to 3/16" thick — the goal is to get close to a full 1/2" thick ceiling when the finished ceiling material goes up, which will likely be 6mm plywood). After a bit of research I decided to go with Patriot Timber Products SurePly®link opens a new window Premium Underlayment, which is a 1/4" thick Poplar plywood sheet for about $28 per sheet (and Home Depot doesn't sell it).

The SurePly® went up without any trouble, using the 7/16" medium-crown stapler in the field, and the 1/4" narrow-crown stapler at the walls (just like in the living room, since the medium-crown stapler can't get close enough to the perimeter). Working with the SurePly® was also pretty nice, since it doesn't need a saw to make most of the cuts — you just make multiple passes with a utility knife along a straight edge to score the cut line, then the panel is bent and snaps at the score like drywall. I did use my little Milwaukee® M12 Multi-tool with a straight saw blade for a couple cuts, but even that goes through the stuff with ease. We also put all the stuff up "backwards", so all the little Xs printed on the face of the underlayment are facing up into the attic, since we don't need to look at all that printing on the ceiling before getting the finished ceiling installed.

The bedroom ceiling "underlayment" also needed the same treatment as most of the living room ceiling at all of the panel joints, as there was a little bowing present between the joists from one panel to the next (this can be seen in the first couple photos above). This was remedied by placing short piece of old 1x3 furring strip between the joists in the attic above the seam, which was held in place with a chunk of 4x4 by the lovely bride (and a little glob of construction adhesive at each end against the joists), then the plywood was stapled to the furring strip with the narrow-crown stapler every couple inches on both sides of the seam. That got rid of all traces of bowing between the joists, and the bedroom ceiling "underlayment" installation work was done in a few days.

click to magnify The closet/laundry room ceiling install (2 photos).

Installing the Closet/Laundry Room Ceiling: Fall 2023
The last task for the bedroom area (for now) was to get the gypsum wall board (GWB) ceiling installed in the closet/laundry room. I'm not a big fan of this stuff, although I really liked working with the DensArmor Plus® fiberglass-faced stuff when I did the GWB work on the bathroom and kitchen back in 2009. Unfortunately it looks like Georgia-Pacific is phasing the stuff out — they no longer list the 1/2" sheets on their web site (although they do still show the 5/8" material), and Lowe's and Home Depot no longer sell it. I've still got a couple full size 1/2" sheets of DensArmor Plus®, which will get used on the wall between the closet and bathroom behind the laundry equipment. So, it looks like the rest of the GWB for the house will just have to be standard, paper-faced, pain-in-the-ass GWB. I picked up four sheets of the ToughRock® "lite-weight" GWB when we made our recent Lowe's supply run, which will be plenty for the ceiling with at least a full sheet extra for the closet walls when the time comes.

Installing the GWB for the ceiling started with a full sheet butted against the new door header, since it's one of the few things in the space that I know is straight. After a bit of careful measuring to get the holes right for the light, smoke alarm, and HRV exhaust vent, the first sheet went up without much trouble (with the help of three 3rd Hand HD supports, and the lovely bride on a step ladder). With the first sheet installed, the rest of the smaller pieces went up quick as I could measure the funky, crooked wall dimensions from the sides and end of the first sheet, and none of the other pieces have any holes.

With the ceiling up in the bedroom and closet/laundry room, I can now get back to attic work to get the other half of the floor raised and finish up the attic insulation work. More than likely finishing up the attic work will take a few weeks, and once we get all the storage bins back into the attic it'll be time for GWB for rest of the living room, bedroom, and closet/laundry room.

Working Out the Attic Access: Winter 2023-24
Okay, this is where things get a little complicated. The old attic hatch was a just a piece of 5/8-inch thick plywood about two and a half feet square, hinged on one edge to open up into the attic with no insulation on it. It was held flush to the ceiling when closed with some trim boards nailed to the ceiling around the opening, and that was it. The new attic opening is nearly three feet wide and over five feet long to allow access with a step-tansu "staircase", and the hatch should have 16-inches of insulation on it to match the rest of the attic floor depth. I'd also like to make it so it doesn't rest on ceiling trim around the opening when closed, as that trim protruding into the opening when open will easily get beat up when moving things in and out of the attic. That means the relatively bulky thing will need to be held in place (and air sealed) from above, which also means it will need to open up into the attic for access to the space, rather than swing down somehow. Like I said, this is getting complicated.

click to magnify The initial attic hatch plans (9 sheets).

As usual, I started to work out how this might all happen on the drawing board. My first though was to make it a 2-piece affair, with two sections each 32-inches long and hinged at one end, then again in the center. This hinged thing would then open up into the attic with some kinda counter-weight/pulley affair to make the weight manageable, and keep it from falling shut while in use. Once I added a basic frame for the hatch sections to the plan, it became very clear that trying to open the hatch with both halves connected together wasn't gonna work, at least not if I wanted the thing to have any insulation on it. As soon as any movement is attempted with hinges in place, the sections jamb against the end and can't move. I also considered using separate sections that are each hinged at their ends, but there's not enough room above the far end for the open piece to allow any access to the attic. I even thought of just making a plywood hatch that filled the whole opening and lifted straight up, but that would mean there'd need to be some kinda big insulation "plug" above it that would be nearly impossible to get back into place when coming down from the attic (never mind figuring out how to air seal the hatch, as well as what to do with the hatch when accessing the attic).

After working through a few of these ideas on the plans (also available as Hatch Plans PDF), I got back to the original notion of using two sections that are supported from above by a "lip" around the perimeter of the opening that will rest on the attic floor (and provide an area for weatherstripping, so there won't be any trim protruding into the opening to get damaged). The first piece will be connected to the floor with a couple hinges and use the counter-weight/pulley system as a lift assist. The end of that piece will need to be built at an angle, so when it swings up it won't interfere with the other hatch section. That other hatch section will then need to be lifted out of the opening and set aside for attic access (or lifted, turned at an angle, and brought down the stairs). If I add some old carpet to the attic floor on each side of the hatch opening, that should prevent the lift-out section from getting scratched in use, and still allow plenty of room to get in and out of the attic. I'm also thinking about making that "top step" thing go away, even though it was a bit of a pain to build in the first place. I added it when I built the raised attic floor to provide a little extra space when climbing into the attic with the step-tansu, but there's so little space above it because of the rafters, we really don't make use of it.

Before I can start building the hatch sections, I'll first need to do a little work on the hatch opening — the framing I built around it when working on the attic floor is properly squared, but the one old ceiling joist that defines one side of the opening is not square to the rest of the opening (all the old ceiling joists were installed at a slight angle from front to back). I'm also planning to "mock up" the step-tansu staircase with a couple stair stringers to determine if that "top step" area stays or goes.

More photos and updates to follow as work progresses…