With the basement portion of the stairwell and support built, it’s time to focus on building the upstairs section of our stairwell. The procedure for framing this portion is very similar to what took place in the previous post: Building Stairs, Framing, Our Fix It Up House but there’s a little added fun of installing a door, hanging drywall, oh and working in the house where Annabelle is into…well, everything 🙂 So, with that added fun thrown in the mix, lets see how things go.
Building Upstairs Stairwell: Check List
- Finalize location of end of stairwell upstairs
- Close up entry from kitchen to front room
- Frame upstairs stairwell
- Rewire original 3-way switches in room to a single-pole switch
- Install can lights
- Wire 3-way switch for stairwell can lights
- Hang drywall
- Install door at top of stairwell
- Mud 🙁
- Sand drywall 🙁 🙁
- Prime and paint!
Miter Saw (review here)
Hammer Drill (review here)
Drill (review here)
Circular Saw (review here)
Reciprocating Saw (review here)
Wood/Metal Freud blade (this blade rocks!)
Chaulk Line ( & plumb bob)
Level (I love my Crick Levels! Review here)
Tool Belt (No need to be fancy)
Drywall Screw Gun
#10 1-1/2 wood screws (Spax)
1/2″ 4’x8′ drywall
Joint Tape (I used paper for the corners and mesh everywhere else)
1-1/4″ Drywall Screws
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Layout and Closing Kitchen Entry
To verify the location of the upstairs stairwell, I cut a few 6×6 holes in the floor that I used to locate support members in the basement. Once everything was squared away, we realized we’d have space for a closet in the upstairs room that was 35″ wide, which is great because we’d originally thought the closet was going to be much smaller. We wanted to make the closest as big as possible while still meeting code requirements for the head clearance in the stairwell. With everything confirmed, it’s time to install the base plates.
The front room of our house was originally used as a dining area, which is strange because it isn’t big enough to fit anything other than a 6 seater table. Anyways, like most dining rooms that are close to the kitchen, there was a walk way that adjoined the two areas. We thought it best to close up this walkway since a plummet to the basement via the kitchen wasn’t exactly a “feature” we were looking for in the house. Crazy, I know.
So here’s my dad being a goof… I’m not exactly sure what he was doing here, practicing for surfing this summer maybe? I conned him into framing out that opening to close it up. He put a top plate and bottom plate in along with a stud on each side of the opening and one in the middle. I have to use all these words to describe it because of course I didn’t get a full picture of the opening once he was finished.
Annabelle came by to check out her Poppi’s work. I think she wasn’t too sure about something she saw, but let him off with a warning.
Framing Upstairs Stairwell
Top Plates & Bottom Plates
Here’s where the fun begins.
Installing the top and bottom plates are first on the list. The bottom plate was easy. Lay it on the floor, drive some nails, and done. The top plate….sigh. Well, I had to get a little creative since it was just me working. So here’s what I did. I took a piece of scrap and attached it to the wall about 1-3/4″ from the ceiling.
Then, I got on the ladder about where my top plate should end and positioned the 2×4 by first setting it on the scrap piece and then lining up the “loose” end with a mark on the ceiling. I put one nail in the non-supported end and then tweaked the placement at the supported end and fully secured the top plate.
Since this wall is not load bearing, I’m placing the studs at 24″ on center. Here are a few shots of the walls framed out.
Make Way For a Door!
Yeah buddy, time for a little more demo! I used my RIDGID reciprocating saw to cut out the majority of the drywall here because I didn’t want to throw drywall pieces all through the house with the equally as enjoyable sledge hammer approach acting like Billy Bad@$$.
There were two different circuits that needed to move before going all Captain Insano and ripping stuff out. So, I flipped the proper breakers, and made my wiring changes. This included turning one 3-way switch into a stand double pole switch, removing an outlet, and relocating an additional outlet.
Here I am double checking the wiring on this 3-way switch to determine what adjustments need to be made while converting to a double pole switch.
Install Can Lights
Check out the slider to see the steps to hook up and install a can light. Obviously cut a hole in the ceiling first though…
From here there are two options for lights to use. One is to put a baffle on the fixture and install either an incandescent or CFL bulb. The route we chose was to install an LED module that has a built in baffle. This was really easy to do. You just remove the metal plate inside the can light and then plug in the LED light. The unit is suspended by the same brackets that you’d use to install a baffle. Check back for a detailed explanation of this process!
When it came to hanging drywall, I had help some of the time and the rest of the time Kathleen was watching the kiddo. So here’s one way I found to support the top course while driving the first few screws into the sheet. Add one more thing these Quick Grip clamps are good for!
All the sheets are hung for the top half of the stairwell, so now it’s time to tape the seams and start floating some mud.
Maybe I’ll post a tutorial on taping and mudding, but for now we’re gonna skip those details and fast forward a bit.
It’s pretty much a details game at this point. The goal is not so much to get everything super crazy flat against a long portion of the wall, but rather to smooth out any imperfections and to blend the transitions from mud to drywall. Me being a perfectionist with sanding, and not having a power sander made this process take a while. Thankfully I thought to get some tunes going before I started!
This is the where the hard work really comes full circle. Painting! Not only does it make the space looks 10x better, but Kathleen enjoys painting and I… Well I enjoy letting her paint 🙂 I did however do the priming and painting the ceiling. We used Sherwin Williams Drywall Primer and Harmony paint which are both no VOC and Greenguard Gold certified.
As you can see, I failed to paint the ceiling first because well… I’m a dumb dumb sometimes. So, my penance was to paint the ceiling after Kathleen had so expertly painted the walls. I won’t make the same mistake again though, so that’s progress!
Time For a Door
Installing this prehung door was pretty simple and I’ll have a dedicated post on the process later. I know it sounds crazy, but we just followed the instructions on the door and had it installed in about 15 minutes. Well, after we took it out the first time and re-leveled it that is…
See my lady installing that door like a boss? I’m so proud 🙂
Check out the video of this phase of the project
That wraps up this portion of the project. You’ll have to check out the next post in this series to see if the floor falls in on me when I cut the floor trusses to take the final steps (no pun intended) in building these stairs!