Learning to Build a Dedicated HT

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Scott-C, Aug 29, 2001.

  1. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    863
    Likes Received:
    0
    I've been learning as much as I can get about how to build a dedicated HT room since I plan to build one some day in the near future. One of the concerns I have is the fact that I have not ever tried to do some of what is involved. And so that leads me to a question: how difficult, in general, is it to build one? How difficult is it to install a thermostat, install dedicated 20-amp electrical circuits, build a stage, wiring, sconces, etc? I want to make sure I don't get in "over my head". I guess a lot of this seems difficult until you learn to do it, huh?
    Many of you seem very comfortable doing these things - geez I wish I felt that way! Do you have any suggestions on how I can learn to do some of this? I'm reasonably handy but I don't do this kind of thing on a consistent basis. I've considered taking some of those Home Depot weekend courses to pick up specific skills, and my wife bought me a home improvement book so I can learn some of it prior to building the theater (that was very cool of her!).
    I'd love to hear from all of you who have built or are in the process of building your own dedicated home theater room. How did you learn how to do it? What mistakes did you make along the way? What suggestions do you have for someone who hasn't started yet? Did you find websites that explained in detail how to do some or all of it, and if so, what are the URLs?
    I think that building a dedicated HT is one of those projects where someone who hasn't started could greatly benefit from the experiences of others. Hopefully your comments will be useful to many who read this post!
    Thanks!
    ------------------
    Scott
     
  2. Robin Smith

    Robin Smith Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Some of the tasks are easier than others, even if you have never done them before. There are basic framing principles that are easy to follow, and hanging sheetrock is simply tiring gruntwork. Mudding and sanding is more of an art - one I am afraid of screwing up when I go to do my HT.
    I am not electrician so am somewhat leery of doing ym own wiring, but again the principles are straightforward for ruinning the wire and mounting the outlets. The actual hook-up part would scare me as I don;t want to die of electrocution.
    Look for someone (a friend/coworker) who will come and help you - preferably someone who has done it before. You will probably be okay so long as you take a methodical approach and don't try to cut corners.
     
  3. Kevin Potts

    Kevin Potts Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2001
    Messages:
    328
    Likes Received:
    0
    quote: hanging sheetrock is simply tiring gruntwork. Mudding and sanding is more of an art [/quote]
    Umm.. begging your pardon.
    Although it is very labor intensive, there is as much of an art, if not more, to hanging drywall as there is to finishing it. Don't believe me, go visit a construction site and take a look see at how it's done.
    The proper installation of drywall is akin to an incredibly difficult jigsaw puzzle. It requires a lot of thinking ahead and a lot of precise measuring and cutting in order to do a good job and make it as easy as possible on the finishers. A little knowledge of geometry is also useful. I should know, it's what I do for a living.
    Bottom line, if you have it done by someone that doesn't treat it as an art, you could be in for a lot of repairs later on down the road.
    Robin,
    Sorry, I don't mean to rip on you, merely to educate. I take my work very seriously and I just wish people understood the trade a little bit better.
    Peace [​IMG]
    ------------------
    [​IMG] "See the world on the wings of rock and roll"
    [Edited last by Kevin Potts on August 29, 2001 at 10:42 PM]
     
  4. Mac F

    Mac F Agent

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2001
    Messages:
    44
    Likes Received:
    0
    To build an entire theater from scrach will expose you to all sorts of new skills- but that's half the fun. Any construction skill can be an art if done properly, which should be what you strive for. On the other hand, if you had been watching some of the highly paid professionals I have had in my home, you would see that not every one of them is a skilled artisan. You have an advantage here because you can take the time to do it right, they have to hurry to the next job. By all means watch the pros if you have a chance. Just watching how they move through a simple task can save you a lot of effort. You can get by with a brute force approach to some of it. Hanging sheetrock requires a lot of muscle, no matter what your skill level. Brute force applied to 110v wireing can get you killed, either now or as a surprise in the future.
    The first step in any of these skills is reading. Your Lowes or Home Depot will have a wide selection of books on any phase of basic construction. Then, if you can find a friend with experience, even better. No matter what you do, it will eventually come down to your own on the job training. If you hang a piece of sheetrock crooked, take it down and try again, no one will ever know if you remove your waste pile in the dead of night.
    110v electricity is a big exception to this. Unless you have had some experience, this is best left to someone who has. You will also have local electrical codes to follow. While it is true that the city will probably never know that you fudged on something, it may create a shock hazard for someone later. If you improperly install a circuit, it overheats and the fireinspector determines that this is the cause of a 3 alarm fire, you may have a hard time with your insurance company.
    While working, remember that the fellow you paid a fortune to install crown molding started off just as clumsy as you feel. The more skills you can master, the better you will feel about yourself.
    ps if you are going to be using loud power toos, such as a router, be sure to wear ear protection. It would be a shame to put all that work into a theater, and develop a hearing loss as a result.
     
  5. Jens Raethel

    Jens Raethel Second Unit

    Joined:
    Oct 27, 1998
    Messages:
    473
    Likes Received:
    1
    Real Name:
    Jens
    I,ve just built my Home Theater, and I wouldnt recomend doing the electrical installition your self!
    That could be really dangerous!
    Concentrate on all the other stuff, and bellive me there is much to do anyway!
    Good luck!
    Jens
    ------------------
    Go see my new theater CINEMAX! updated 2001-08-27
    And PLEASE sign my guestbook!!
    http://cine-max.tripod.com/cinemax/
    [Edited last by Jens Raethel on August 30, 2001 at 10:36 AM]
     
  6. KenA

    KenA Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2000
    Messages:
    109
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Massapequa, NY
    Real Name:
    Ken Appell
    This is a great thread. I've done a lot of "handy-man" work on houses of friends and family and I have just purchased my first home. I can't wait to start work on it renovating and eventually building a home theater. I would love to "hear" about difficulties as well as epiphanies others experienced. Any tips and tricks are also very welcome.
    ------------------
    »ken«
     
  7. Carson E

    Carson E Agent

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2001
    Messages:
    45
    Likes Received:
    0
    Scott: I'm in the middle of doing it. Of course I have it contracted out but I still had to work with the Electrican as far as telling him where to put extra outlets, run boxes for rear speaker wires, coax, and phone wire etc. Also to dedicate the wall outlets to their own breaker. I know there will be things I'll miss. Like now I have a post on outlet covers for speaker and coax runs. I'm almost stumpped on this one but I depend on the experts (or at least the ones that have been through it ) here at HTF.
    My biggest regret is not taking more time for the "planning" stage. Very important. I should have started a plan at least six months before the first nail was driven. Now I'm rushing to keep up with the subcontractors.
    So plan well and have it down before starting.
    And good luck.
    Carson
     
  8. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    863
    Likes Received:
    0
    These are all great responses that have generated good information - thanks! I think, given what you've all said, it probably makes sense to let the electrical work to someone else!
    What about HVAC? How hard is it to learn to install intake and outtake vents, and what have people done to make them "silent"?
    Keep those ideas coming!
    Thanks,
    ------------------
    Scott
     
  9. Robin Smith

    Robin Smith Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Kevin, I disagree with your interpretation of my comments and still stand by them.
    Hanging sheetrock is laborious work. It is repetitive and tiresome (which is my definition of grunt work). This does not mean it is easy. In the context of this thread, I think that my comments are appropriate.
    There are some basic principles with respect to hanging sheetrock that, once understood, are straightforward to follow - even if you do not do it for a living. Knowing about staggering the seams and such are not exclusive secrets of the trade. Once you know the basics you can follow them with pretty good results, the work is still "grunt work" IMO. It is also work that I would recommend a home theatre enthusiast do on their own if they are willing to put in some money-saving sweat equity into the construction of their home theatre.
    The intention of my comments was more to imply that even if you know the principles of taping/mudding it is still difficult to do a good job. The same goes for electrical work because if you screw up the results are potenitally disatrous.
    If you are insulted by this then sorry, but if you think about all of the steps involved in finsihing a room, nailing heavy rectangles of gypsum to a wall is probably the one most people can handle. Good quality mudding or safe electrical is probably the jobs best left to the experts.
    Just my opinion though.
    Robin Smth
    [Edited last by Robin Smith on August 31, 2001 at 11:01 PM]
     
  10. Kevin Potts

    Kevin Potts Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2001
    Messages:
    328
    Likes Received:
    0
    I realize that I'm getting somewhat off topic with my following responses, but I feel I must respond once again.
    Robin,
    I totally agree that hanging drywall is laborious work and I apologize if I was a bit harsh in my earlier comments or misinterpreted your statements. However, having been in this trade for many years, including the last 6 years of which I have been an independent drywall contractor, I can tell you and others that drywall installation is not something to be taken lightly. I've seen and heard firsthand of many incidents where someone tried their hand at installing drywall and ran into problems as a direct result and yours truly got the call to come in and fix things.
    Granted there are basics which can be learned from books or talking to someone in the trade, such as the staggering of seams and nail and screw patterns, but that can only get you so far. There are certain do's and dont's which are usually only learned from firsthand experience. In most cases a person with reasonable skills won't run into problems, but there are a couple of facts that we need to take a look at.
    1: Most people don't realize that sheetrock can actually have an affect on the structural integrity of a building. This is one of the main reasons that there are codes and inspections dictating nail and screw patterns in different situations. Now while this information can usually be obtained by someone with decent investigative skills, the importance of this should not be underestimated.
    2: Even though the staggering of seams or joints is important, it is just as important where those seams or joints are in relation to specific framing members. Load bearing walls and joists support heavy loads and are breeding grounds for cracks. It is always a good idea to avoid having seams or joints in these particular places because nine times out of ten this will be where the first problems will rear their ugly heads.
    When it comes to any remodeling or building project, doing the work yourself can be a very rewarding and money saving experience. However, like in all aspects of life there is a downside. Even though the pitfalls of do it yourself projects may not prove to be disastrous, they can still be quite costly and induce many a headache. That is why I felt compelled to respond to your previous statement.
     
  11. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    863
    Likes Received:
    0
    Kevin & Robin,
    Can you elaborate on what you mean by "staggering the seams" of drywall? Are you referring to not matching up the seams of a double-drywall HT installation?
    Can you recommend a good book or Website that goes over all/many of the principles of drywall installation that you are referring to (i.e. not putting seams near the load-bearing portion of walls, screw patterns, etc.)
    BTW, I assume it's a good idea to use screws rather than nails when installing drywall...agree? Is this to achieve a tighter, rattle-free installation?
    ------------------
    Scott
     
  12. Kevin Potts

    Kevin Potts Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2001
    Messages:
    328
    Likes Received:
    0
    Scott,
    The purpose of staggering the drywall seams is the same as staggering the seams when installing roof sheathing of plywood decking.
    "Staggering the seams" is basically this:
    Whenever you hang drywall or any other material it is best to do it in such a way so that the ends of the sheets in each corresponding row do not line up with each other. This is done for structural reasons to stiffen things up a bit. The seams should be offset by at least one framing member, but a seperation of 4ft is best.
    If you can try to picture this example in your head.
    Let's say you are hanging drywall on a basement ceiling. When you start your first row put up as long as sheet as possible. As soon as you get that first piece up get ready to start the row right next to it. Measure from the wall that your first piece butts up against to about halfway down the first sheet to the closest framing member. So in other words, if the first sheet in the first row was approx. 12ft long, the first sheet in the second row should be cut at around 6ft. As long as you keep using 12ft long sheets, your seams should be offset or (staggered) by 6ft or so.
    As far as getting some kind of instructions, I can suggest two things.
    First, call a drywall contractor and explain to him that you are going to attempt to do the work yourself and ask if they might be interested in doing some consulting work. They might just charge you for a couple of hours time to come out and give you a crash course in drywall installation.
    Second, try to find a book about hanging drywall at one of your local building centers. i.e. Home Depot, Lowes, Sutherlands. I would suggest that you find one with as much detail as you can. That would give you a good place to start.
    Hmm...Screws vs nails. Well if you've ever been in a home and seen nail heads popping out of the sheetrock, in the old days they used all nails, you probably wouldn't have asked. [​IMG] It's always better to use screws. The only exception is when you're fastening the butt joints (the seam where the ends of two sheets meet) and there's not very much wood to screw into. In this case it would be better to use drywall nails specifically made for drywall.
    ------------------
    [​IMG] "See the world on the wings of rock and roll"
    [Edited last by Kevin Potts on September 01, 2001 at 02:28 PM]
    [Edited last by Kevin Potts on September 01, 2001 at 02:29 PM]
     
  13. ace peterson

    ace peterson Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 4, 2001
    Messages:
    340
    Likes Received:
    0
    HI!
    Seems like this has become a drywalling thread...
    I think you could do just about anything yourself (including the electric and drywall) if you really wanted to. It would be best though, if you've never done it before, to have someone else help you through the various steps that has had some experience. Two minds thinking together are always better than one.
    When building my HT, I wish I had spent more time on the planning stages. I planned ahead, don't get me wrong, but you can't hardly plan enough. Where exactly do I want the outlets, how many do I need, heating/cooling issues, lighting, speaker placements, window/doorway issues, upgrading in the future, cable runs & sizes of cables when going through conduit, furniture placement, wall covering with drywall & carpet, ceiling options, etc etc.
    My planning started with 'how big can I make it?' since I was building in the basement and had to do some compromising with the wife. It ended up being about 11' x 20'. I wish I had made it a tad longer then 20', since I'm putting in 2 rows of seating the front row is a little closer than what I really wanted. Another thing I wish I had done is put in more tubing to allow for cable runs. My eq is going in the back of the room, and I ran 1 tube from the back to the front of the room. I'm afraid now that wont be near enough. I had also put some tubing in the side walls that come out on the sides close to the front, so I might be able to use those. Plan Plan Plan.
    But unless you are Mr. Moneybags, I say do as much of the work yourself that you can possibly do. Why not save the money? You could use the money you saved on more eq. And you will be all the more skilled when are finished...
    Good luck & have fun!
    Ace
     
  14. Robin Smith

    Robin Smith Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    Aside from purchasing abook or checking out a web site, you may want to keep your eye out at your local Home Depot for one of their information sessions where the do some hands on training on various home improvement tasks, including hanging drywall.
    While it is far from indepth, it will at least give you some real exposure to the basics (very basics!) of hanging drywall.
    One tip I know of for hanging drywall with staggered seams that avoids excessive cuts (providing your dimensions work out) is to start with a full sheet on the left hand side for the first row, then on the second row start with a full sheet on the right hand side.
    Two other tips: use the largest drywall sheets you can find (typical lengths are 8', 10' and 12'). Gof for 12' as the less seams the better (less mudding too!!).
    Also, try at all costs to avoid using edges of drywall that you have cut in the middle of the wall. Drywall has a tapered edge to allow for good mudding and a smooth wall. If you cut a sheet of drywall, put the cut edge to the corner if possible.
    Aside from staggering seams from row to row, it may be worth pointing about that if you are doing two layers of drywall you should also stagger the semas from layer to layer. It will be more structurally sound.
    One final point. Drywall screws are not the same as "regular" screws, make sure to use the real deal. It is worth renting a drywall screw gun as it will usually counter sink the screw head the right amount for mudding without going too far in a ruining the structural integrity of the drywall sheet.
    Robin
     
  15. Kevin Potts

    Kevin Potts Second Unit

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2001
    Messages:
    328
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  16. Wes

    Wes Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 1997
    Messages:
    1,190
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    Utah USA
    Real Name:
    Wes Peterson
    OK, I am getting close to finishing up my DIY dedicated theater. I have done almost every thing myself with the exceptions of the HVAC and carrying the drywall down the stairs. I was going to do the HVAC myself but I have a nabor that does it for a living and told me he would do it all (Two bed rooms and Theater) for $150., It would have cost me that much in parts so I said "sure do it". I found some big Samoan (spelling?) guys to haul 90 sheets of sheetrock down into the basement for me for only $40. I just did not want to do it! I did haul it from Home Depot to my garage.
    I knew very little about construction and afew of my walls might show that. But now they are covered up by drywall so no body will ever know. Just a pointer when building walls think in terms of where drywall will attach. I not admitting I did not have that in mind! [​IMG] Rent, buy, borrow or steal a nail gun. I can not even imagine nail all this by hammer alone.
    I did all my own wiring, I do have an electrician at work that I could ask for advise and did several times. But all in all the wiring was not too hard. You could learn most of what you need to know from books or heck from us here. There will be codes in your local area you will need to follow. I installed two 20 amp breakers and one 15 amp for lights just for the theater.
    I am building two 12x13 bedrooms, a hall and the 12x24 theater all at the same time. At times it was quite over whelming to look at the whole project. And when it came to drywall taping and mudding I freaked. I am not a patience person at all. And to think I was going to have to revisit that and every seam 3 to 4 times was too much. After starting on one of the bedrooms I found a so called mudding professional and hired him to mud the theater. He and his help was a joke. When they showed up the did bad quality work in which I have now had to repair every seam that is why I did not include them in the hired list of contracted help.
    I will not challenge anyone to find my blunders with drywall as I know there are many. Dry wall hanging and mudding is a skill and art, of which I do not have. I do admit my last few seams where pretty damn good. [​IMG] I had to teach myself to just look at the one seam at a time in front of me and mud it then move to the next seam. As I said its just overwhelming. I had a quote from another drywaller to mud and tape all rooms for $1,300. I just did not have the money so I eat plenty of mud, got covered by white dust and worker my fingers and arms raw. It is not fun work! Not to mention the texturing of the ceiling.
    My wife said she will do all the painting, we'll see how that goes. I still have to spray texture the walls (hope it will cover some imperfections), install the doors and molding. Install all electrical switches/outlets and wire to panel, paint and have carpet installed. The theater will take some more work but once I can get some tunes going on my system and get a display on the projector fired up I will not mind spending many hours down there.
    Advise:
    Plan, Plan, Plan and once you think you have it down, do it again. I drew out the whole basement and designed every thing myself. And after it its all up it kind of resembles my drawings. [​IMG]
    If you are poor and feel up to it, do it! If not let someone els eat mud!
    Wes
    My construction photos:
    prosteering.8k.com
     
  17. Robin Smith

    Robin Smith Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
     
  18. Scott-C

    Scott-C Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    863
    Likes Received:
    0
    Wes,
    I feel for you! I can't imagine taking on that many DIY projects at the same time. When you're done, think of the satisfaction you'll have at having done it yourself, the way you want, while you're playing your favorite DVDs or CDs in your theater!
    Kevin/Robin, your insights into drywall are great! I've had it in mind to get a screwgun to install the drywall (and other parts of the HT, but I didn't know they made a special gun for drywall screws. Would I need an additional screw gun for non-drywall applications (such as framing) or can I use the drywall screwgun for both?
    Plan, plan, plan seems to be the theme here, and it's good advice. I'm probably a little more than a year away from being in a position to build a dedicated HT, and it seems like it would be a good idea to start planning now. I think I'll start by considering design concepts and coming up with a design for my HT. Then, I'll starting putting down on paper what materials I'll need to implement the design, and will definitely try to remember to give due consideration to the details (i.e. where to put outlets, etc.).
    How have you DIYers figured out what acoustic treatments to install, and where to install them? I've read that in a home theater, you want sound absorption from your ears on down, and reflection and/or diffusion above your ears. I know there are some companies out there who sell acoustic treatment packages, but I can't imagine they're cheap. I suppose treatments vary from room to room but given that most of the dedicated HTs I've seen are some form of rectangle, perhaps there's a common pool of ideas for acoustic treatments?
    ------------------
    Scott
     
  19. Robin Smith

    Robin Smith Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 27, 2000
    Messages:
    184
    Likes Received:
    0
    You have two options for screw guns:
    Buy or rent a dedicated drywall screwgun. It is custom made for that task and that tasks only and will do the best job.
    Here is a link to one at the Makita site:
    http://www.makitatools.com/product/tool.asp?MODEL=6825
    Alternately, you can buy a drywall screw attachment for a drill. I don't have much experience with them so can;t cxomment on how well they will work.
    You may also be interested in checking these out:
    http://www.skil.com/Projects/Project...ng+Drywall.htm
    and
    http://www.skil.com/Projects/Project...ng+Drywall.htm
    and
    http://www.taunton.com/fh/admin/techniques.htm
    Just some sites I have stumbled across...
    Robin Smith
     
  20. Randy dela Fuente

    Joined:
    Aug 24, 2001
    Messages:
    27
    Likes Received:
    0

Share This Page