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Thursday, 19 November 2020


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Dehumidifier? Also, if you can't put in a ceiling, how are you going to avoid just heating the rafters?

Non-expert opinion(s):

1. Don’t bother with ceiling. Ceilings are a significant problem area for the “sound” of a room. No, the purpose of this room is not music reproduction, but having a “good sounding” room makes other uses, especially gatherings, more pleasant and confortable.

2. If you do want to put in a ceiling, then yes, plywood is a far better choice than drywall. The same goes for walls. The drawback, of course, is cost relative to sheet rock.

Unsolicited advice is worth what you pay for it!

Cool, How are you going to hang stuff.? I just installed 10 feet of a track & cable hanging system. Works well and looks better than I thought it would.

The lack of a ceiling will have a major impact other issues; e.g., heating, cooling, and lighting efficiency. It might merit higher priority.

And if you DO add that plywood ceiling, blanket the top side with insulation prior to final installation. Also‚ hinge-mount a ceiling panel that's adjacent to a wall so that there's easy access for visual inspection of the roof interior.

It’s pretty straightforward to even out ceiling joists. I had to do it when a friend made one big bedroom out of two little bedrooms.

Get some 3/4” furring strips long enough to cover the span wall to wall across the joists. Find the lowest joist and mark the wall at that level, dropping down 3/4” for the thickness of the furring strip. Establish a level line at that height all the way around the room which will mark the bottom of the furring strips. This is pretty easy these days with the proliferation of laser levels that project the line on the wall. Back in the day I used a water level like the guys who built the pyramids, marked each corner and snapped a chalk line.

The furring strips will be installed across the existing joists at 16” on center (or 12”, if you want to make sure the drywall doesn’t sag). The furring strips will become your new ceiling joists. Once everything is marked out, tack a furring strip in place across the joists at every mark.

To level the strips, tack a string under one end of a furring strip at the level line and stretch it very tightly across the room to the corresponding level line on the other side. Now shim between the uneven joists and the furring strip until the furring strip just meets the string. There will be a shim at every joist except the low one. Once everything is screwed in place you’ll have a nice level ceiling ready for drywall.

This is more complicated to explain than to actually do. I’ll email you a quick cross section sketch to make it easier to visualize.

Just a suggestion on the lighting, Mike. (OK, actually the painting.) Why wouldn't you want to paint the upper portion in perhaps an off-white or very light gray, so that it can become part of the light source in the room. Seems like it could offer significant softening of the shadows and be easier on the eyes. Like a giant fill card.

Fantastic! Some suggestions, which you've probably already considered:

- There are many attractive options these days in suspended ceilings, in many materials. And if you don't want to get fancy/pricey a quick temporary or permanent option for an uneven ceiling is fabric.

- One could break up the 30inch high shelves with lower bench/cupboards in a couple of spots. It's nice to sit once in a while, and you can't have too much storage space.

- Dartboard? Could double as a frame for a certain category of portrait (heheh)

The roof framing/ceiling situation is unfortunate, but I suspect it could be easily remedied. Given that you're installing insulation between the rafters, the ceiling is only for appearances. In that case, something like the drop ceilings installed in many basements would probably work. You could find a pre-made product or get any competent carpenter to hang leveled 2x4s (or similar) in the rafters (just below the minimum height of the stretchers) to create the appropriate framework for attaching drywall.

Don't take this seriously, but... You could easily have a wall-mounted enlarger with a flip-down table and the pool table already has drains, right? Wait... build a large acrylic/metal (waterproof) sink-like thing that spans the table and has a drain into a large bucket, maybe? You'd have to carry your fluids in and out, but it could work. Just teasing you to see how far you go.

If you put a mattress on the pool table, you can also have a bedroom in the shed.

Our basement in half of our mid 50's modern had a drop ceiling we removed. Couldn't dry wall it as it would have been too low. So we painted the whole ceiling, joists and assorted pipes black. Then we installed the lighting at the bottom of joists at even level. Now you don't even see the ceiling. Was a good and only real move in this instance.

Maybe your ceiling can be leveled the way the concrete floors of porches that have converted to interior rooms are done. It takes some work, but I've seen that done to accommodate better wooden flooring. It seems the principles applied to those floors could be used to create an acceptable drop ceiling to which you could attach sheet rock.

The stretcher issue is easy to solve. Just sister in 2x4s at the height of the lowest stretcher to make a consistent ceiling height. Insulate and drywall and forget about it. :)

You really should cover the foam insulation in the ceiling with sheetrock, The foam is flammable and code requires it. Also the foam outgassed over time.

The simple ceiling fix is to put up additional new collar ties (some call them rafter ties, they are what keeps your roof from spreading out) sistered to the existing ones. They would find the lowest point on the existing framing and then nail new ties all at that level to the existing ties. It shouldn't take more than an hour or two. Note that the sheetrock is designed to span 24" maximum between the collar ties.

You should discuss the weight of the pool table legs bearing on the particle board subfloor with the contractor. The table may be heavy enough to dent the flooring over time causing the table to go out of level.

Just trying to prevent some frustrating problems down the line.

PS I'd love to come visit when it is safe.

Why can’t you even out the height by putting strips of wood with varying thickness on the horizontal beams?

Most building codes require plastic foam insulation to be covered by drywall or a few other materials that are approved. The concern is the toxicity of the smoke if the foam burns during a fire. It's a safety issue as well as a building permit one.

Will you have some sort of a sound system in your shed?

Would a dropped ceiling work? You loose a little height but cover up the uneven rafters.

Why not a dropped ceiling? Cheaper than drywall, a more attractive way to install fluorescent lights that will be better to play pool under, and the lower ceiling will help keep the heat down where you need it.

You've probably already considered this, but vinyl plank can be an inexpensive flooring solution. We installed some with a rubber back onto a concrete floor in our basement. Comfortable to walk on as well, and water poof. Not sure the details for how it would work on wood, most likely the wood would need to be sealed somehow. In any event, flooring is something that can be considered anytime.

Cool project you have going on here.


Actually, flooring can't be considered any time...once the pool table goes in, you can't move it to put in flooring. Moving a pool table even a few inches can ruin the setup. --Mike]

I think there is an easy solution to your ceiling issue.

Ask contractor Jesse to "sister" appropriately sized (probably 2"x6" or 2"x8") material to the stretchers. They should meet the joists at a uniform point...which is easy to mark with a chalk line or laser. Sistering means attaching a board to the existing board. It will enable to you have consistent corners on a level structural plane. Hanging drywall on it will not be an issue. If it were me I'd also ask for 5/8" drywall.

This is a simple framing fix, and should not cost much to do. Looks like you'll also need some blocking where the rafters meet the top plates of the walls. Not including a trip to the lumber yard, the total effort should probably only be a couple of hours of work.

Nothing wrong with painted floors, it is an old tradition. You can do a geometric pattern if you are up to it, or stencil a border.
You can also do inexpensive low pile commercial type carpet (think museum gray) because it will add a bit of insulation value and make the room less of an echo box. You can also do stretched canvas between the trusses, not real canvas but Painters drop cloths or Photo muslin backdrop material in a natural canvas color. If you get the really thin stuff you can light it from behind and make your ceiling glow.
Nice to have stuff to look forward to.......
good luck.
Have you thought about a tiny wood stove tucked in a corner, -seems like a natural in your neck of the woods.

PS... You'll want to have this work completed before the spray foam insulation!

Novice Q - does the pool table come with a cover?

Oooooh, electric baseboard heat! Been there, done that, won't ever do it again. I'll assume you've had it before and were OK with it. Otherwise for your climate I'd run the numbers and take a really long hard look at some kind of tiny wood/pellet stove. Base board electric is super expensive if you want to keep warm.

Surely you can nail/screw strips of wood to the joists (or stretchers as you call them), that are the same thickness as the joists, and of a depth sufficient to make them all have the same distance from the floor? With a portable table saw and some wood, this would take about 30-60 minutes, and cost next to nothing in materials.

(Before installing anything that hinders viewing the underside of the roof, you need to be very sure that it is watertight.)

As for the floor, modern laminates are very good and difficult to distinguish from genuine wood, and as this is a small area, not very expensive.

Also known as a ‘French’ hang

I had a pool table in my home gallery twenty years ago. I used the pool table as a table so much I made a wood top and a cloth to cover it. Was so wonderful. It’s been my plan to do this in my library, when I get my own place.

Is looking great Mike. What a great thing to be doing for yourself.

Ça alors Mike, starting with pool playing friends, then chess playing friends, then book collecting and readin' friends, then photo taking and printing friends.....your winter's boredom problems are all solved.

Only Butters and Lulu now need some tail waggin' friends.

Now your TOP reading folks don't want to hear no more bellyaching when them snow arrives.

Dan K.

That extra multi purpose room is going to be a great addition. Enjoy the extra space.

Don't forget you might want to do in wall cables for a stereo system, cable tv (future use), data of some sort, general wizbang future digital use. And does anyone have sufficient power outlets? No, put in more than you need presently.
cheers and beers,

I hope you get a lot of use and pleasure from the "shed", and lots of time in which to enjoy it.

I think that I would definitely try for some kind of insulated ceiling if only to keep the heating costs lower; here, in Mallorca, they build houses and apartments on the principle that being in the Mediterranean, it doesn't rain or get cold. Which could not be further from the wintry truth. The result is that heating goes straight through the walls, much to the delight of the garden and the electricity company.

[The ceiling will be insulated! It's getting spray foam insulation top to bottom. --Mike]

You can easily scab on a 2x4 to the stretchers and make it level.
Much better than painting and then redoing it later
Go with the good stuff
if you don't it will take away from the photo wall

Finally I can add a pool related story... actually two. First is I had a school friend who had a small pool table in a room under their house. The table was wedged between the house stumps which meant many areas were almost impossible to get a shot on the cue ball. Even with this hazard, we spent many fun hours around that table. My second story involves our family table. It has it's own room with clear cue room all around... well it did have until my mother started putting furniture (sideboards) with photos and trinkets on them. Now when we visit, having a game involves moving things out of the way or unwanted angles of attack!

As for your bookshelves, maybe consider making the top seats, so your opponent has somewhere to rest while you clear the table.

A decent carpenter could shim those stretchers to create a nice, flat ceiling. Plus, are you sure you want your framed photos and books in an environment containing the formaldehyde out-gassing from all that chipboard?

Both the photo gallery (salon style!) and the photo books suggest some use for a place to sit while looking at them, and I don't hear any seating anywhere in the room?

If you are going to put in baseboard heating, use the type that heats an oil filled container versus pure electric. Much more efficient.

Just want to echo what EdB said about the ruinous cost of baseboard electric. We have it in our poorly insulated bedroom (same latitude as you, but a couple of hundred miles to the east). It is basically like a scaled up toaster oven. As a result, we just don't run it and sleep "cold" under two down comforters. A more efficient solution (electrically) is a cold-climate heat pump. A bit more expensive up front, but cheaper to run. Your electric rates will never go down, only up over time. A wood stove is nice (I am sitting in front of one now with the dog lounging on me), but a lot of work to get going. I don't have direct experience with pellets, but you order them by the ton and have to keep them dry to avoid clumping. Ah, the blessed Northeast!

Whatever you do keep us informed with updates and of course photos. Too often similar projects are posted on line with updates promised but never appear.

If you are looking for ways to save money you might want to consider some inexpensive sofa/console tables from Amazon. They are the right height for your pool shed and can be found with two shelves, like this one. They won’t compare with what Andrew would build but they are inexpensive and in some cases made of actual wood (pine).

Years ago I bought a Hemnes sofa table from Ikea because the bottom sections were the perfect size for albums and the smaller top shelf was perfect for CD’s. I’ve been happy with the purchase and it still sits under my turntable. You might also want to consider a nice Mission style area rug for under the pool table. Based on photos of your home that you’ve posted, the Mission style should be right up your alley.

Well, all of my great ideas for the ceiling have been spelled out by others, in great detail, above. But wait, there's more!

Maybe take advantage of those angles the rafters make beyond the stretchers, wallboard those, and mount high CRI LED lights in them. See Ctein's post a few years ago about how he illuminated his printer room, after dismantling his darkroom.

I did a neat trick a while back in our upstairs middle room (Cape Cod with a raised dormer section over that room). I removed the cheap carpeting, acquired 1/4" thick sheets of red oak hardwood panels, sanded one side, used ZAR sealer, which brought out the color and grain, used construction adhesive to fasten the sheets to the sub-flooring, then two coats of polyurethane. It looks nice, and has fooled even experienced hardwood flooring installers.

A suspended ceiling won’t just soften sound, it will save on your heating and a/c billls, and eventually pay for itself, provided you stick around. I like the idea of low bookcases, but wouldn’t that be possible inside the house some place where they’re more accessible and closer to seating?

Putting in a wood stove is all very well, but unless you are going to regularly spend hours at a time in there it's not practical; wood stoves need to be fed at regular intervals or else they'll go out.

If you only wanted to be in there for 90 minutes you'd spend another 30 minutes setting and lighting the fire, tending to it, fetching firewood, chopping kindling, and going back out to empty the ash pan when the fire had gone out. In practise, you wouldn't bother.

Electric heating is the way to go; you've made a wise choice. You can set it to provide background heat so the shed doesn't suffer from condensation, and you can go in there, turn the heat up, and it'll start to warm the shed up straight away.

My place has solid fuel central heating, but I use an electric fire for spot heat on cold mornings, or for when I've been out all day and the heating hasn't been on.

You might find that a P.I.R. ("sensor") light between the house and the shed will be very useful at night, especially if you have visitors who don't know the layout of your place.

With my electrician head on, I saw that the Arnold Newman photo is right above some light switches. In England most lighting cables go up from the switch, so I hope the photo isn't hung on a nail!

No windows? Living in a beautiful part of the country, as you do, I'd want to be able to see out at least, and in pleasant weather get some fresh air. Nice project; enjoy.

Will humidity control be an issue during the shoulder seasons (too cool for AC, too warm for heat)?

As one who spent 22 years in the drywall business I have an idea. A 2x4 long enough to span the width of the shed could be attached to the rafters just under the uneven joists in an even fashion. To prevent sagging a support from above to the center of each 2x4 would do the trick. Then you could have a drywall ceiling. The reframing suggestion would only take a few hours in a small building like this.

Is your Vestal/Smith the famous one with Gene on the right, a darkened street behind him, taken just after he had been robbed of his cameras? Or another, in which case I hope you will share a shot of it.

Baseboard heating and low bookshelves don't sound like they go together very well. They are competing for the same space and hot moist air circulating over your books might do damage. And hadn't you decided that long term the best solution was a heat exchange system?

Your picture of a "Victorian photo gallery" sent me briefly down that particular rabbit hole. On emerging, I realized that I have one of those, too: https://flic.kr/p/2k8w8PA

[Re the Smith photo, that's the one. --Mike]

Our table in Uk is actually serve two purposes. It rotate and hence it is a snooker (not pool) and a big dinning table. If it is not Wu Han virus we would have been there now. But not sadly.

It is our tv room and activity room but mainly broad games.

No photograph as I am the only one who like it, whilst my son just do it as a student job and go to conference (as the designated medical school conference photographer, but sadly not doing that much).

That Newman portrait of Mondrian is one of my two favorites of his, the other by Stravinsky. I love the visual pun of the Mondrian.


"Creating a Gallery Wall? Don’t Start Hammering Yet"

Well, shoot. I did it without knowing it has a name, nor worrying about how someone else would do it.

Also, no hammering, 3M Command picture hanging stuff.

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