Advice on non-permanent walls / room dividers

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Old 03-08-15, 06:25 PM
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Advice on non-permanent walls / room dividers

Hello and thanks for the forum.

I live in a studio apartment and I'm designing a temporary wall system to create an area for the bed.

I plan to use 2x3s and Sheetrock and make a basic L shaped wall about 80"x80" that will go in one corner of the apartment to create a private area for the bed. There will be an opening in one of the sides where a curtain will go to create a door.

My floors are hardwood, so I will attach strips from an old yoga mat to the bottom of the 2x3s to protect the floor and make the wall easy to slide around.

I plan to make the wall about 80" tall, and put a 1"x5" along the top to create a little shelf space.

I am not planning to attach this wall to the apartment walls in any way. When I leave next year, I will just take it apart salvage what I can and junk the rest.

Since I'm not attaching it to the walls or floor, and I don't plan to take it all the way to the ceiling, do you think this structure could be considered furniture rather than a "wall"?

I've spoken to the maintenance manager here at the facility and she said as long as it doesn't damage the apartment it should be fine. She even said that sometimes people bring in contractors to slightly alter apartments and as long as their licenses and pull permits, it's fine.

I'm not a licensed contractor and I'm not planning to pull permits. I'm also not making any structural or functional modifications to the apartment. What I am trying to do is to create a movable, temporary wall partition that will not in any way affect or modify the apartments structure or function.

Does any one have experience doing something like this? Do you think doing this would put me in violation of building codes? Other than the managers, who don't seem to have an issue, would the scope of this project warrant input from code enforcement or the fire marshal?

I don't want to put in the work, and then have someone tell me to remove it or fine me, or both. I view it as furniture, which to my knowledge doesnt require building permits and inspectors. But I could be wrong. I don't know... if I bought a bunch of Ikea bookcases and lined them up or otherwise arranged them to do the same thing, would that be in violation of a code?

Thanks for your thoughts and input -

B
 
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Old 03-09-15, 03:08 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

As long as it isn't physically attached to the apartment I doubt a permit would be needed. I'm not sure how stable the wall would be just setting free. I'd rethink using drywall as that is a lot of weight and needs a secure stable framing to attach to - paneling would be a better choice. The bookcase idea would work better.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 03:41 AM
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If we look at this wall as a large "L", without either far end of the shape being attached to a wall or anchored at the top, it would be very unstable. It will want to twist or torque and fall over in either direction from any lateral force. It would need to be structurally attached to the wall at both ends. One end as a complete stud and the other as a header over your doorway attached to that wall. Even that will not completely stabilize the door/curtain opening as the base of that wall does not anchor to anything.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 03:51 AM
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Re-think using your materials. As stated previously it will be unstable. Look up free standing room dividers. It will stable, movable, and will not affect any thing on the building. And you take it with you when you leave. Many different types and styles.

https://www.google.com/search?hl=en&...69.4ORdHmcf8Wk
 
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Old 03-09-15, 05:13 AM
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Thanks for your advice and input. It sounds like the general consensus is that a non-permanent partition wall isn't going to be an issue from a code or fire inspection standpoint, which is encouraging.

As far as to stability goes, is there any way I can attach a diagram of the partition?

I will summarize it like this: the base of the partition will be a triple stack of 2x3 lumber with a thin rubber pad at the very bottom. For the side that has the door opening, there will be a double or triple stacked header to help make up for the smaller footer on that side, ie the part with the door. Instead of running top to bottom Sheetrock on both sides, I plan to install a single panel of 3/8" in each of the sections of the wall, which will be about 65" x 35". I will run a small 1x1 frame and glue/pin the sheet rock to that. Also as far as the junction of the L goes, I've designed it so that there is a decorative / functional 10" extension past the L junction for the door wall that will make it much more stable.

So, it will not be as heavy as you may be thinking, it will carry additional bulk at the bottom to make it let top heavy, and consideration has been taken to make an extension for lateral tippage.

let me know if there is any way to attach a drawing I think that may help get a better insight, thanks
 
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Old 03-09-15, 05:33 AM
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Old 03-09-15, 10:50 AM
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Forgive the crude drawing, I dont have my complete original with me today.

Name:  partition scan.jpg
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It will be a max height of 75" tall, with one side being 74" long, the other being 79", with 19" jutting out past the corner for stability.

Basically this will be a bottom-heavy 2x3 frame work with thin sheetrock inserts. I suppose it could be some type of paneling as well. But sheetrock will def. be the cheapest.

I will be making, for lack of a better word, 1x1" picture frames in each of the openings, which will allow the paneling or sheetrock to have something to glue / nail to. I will then caulk the gaps. The whole thing will be painted semi-gloss white.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 01:51 PM
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If you just want visible separation and won't ever be leaning things against the divider or bumping things into it, I'd think a large "L" shape would be stable enough, but making it as heavy as described is probably a bad idea. Individual bookshelf units would be somewhat more stable but would occupy much more space and leave the possibility of the units falling over individually.

Also, dismantling anything made with drywall will be a mess when it comes to it.

You could consider building a number of smaller, lightweight units similar to theater/TV "flats" with 10-12" long "feet" connected crosswise on the bottoms, then attaching these together with hinges at the edges, and gain some extra stability by arranging a pit of a zig-zag pattern with them (similar to a free-standing folding privacy divider, but on a larger scale). Make each unit 24-30" wide by 80-84" tall, framed with 1x3 or 1x4 and with 2-3 cross-braces along the height, then skin one side (or both if you prefer) with 1/4" luan paneling, and attach two 10" pieces of 1x4 centered on the bottom of each panel about 4-6" in from either vertical edge. Using some kind of furniture pads (3 per "foot") will provide ample protection for the apartment flooring. Attaching 3-4 of these (depending on what width you make the sections) will give you a divider which will cover 80" or a bit more, and two sets of those will make an 80x80 "L" which will wobble when bumped but would be tough to knock over entirely, and can be additionally stabilized by just setting some kind of heavy object on top of each of the feet (a brick, book, or small sand bag would suffice), then when the time comes to remove it, just pull the hinge pins and each panel can be easily carried out without any further disassembly required.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 02:51 PM
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The zig-zag solution offered by BMgreene does have merit, however it will take up additional room.

Couple of points:

- The rubber mat beneath will actually work to make the wall less stable
- The addition of the 19" extension does nothing to stabilize the wall as the weak spot in your drawing is at the opposite end of both legs.
-The stability issues are a result of height and additional weight of 2x3's at the bottom will not compensate for an inherent top heavy design.

If you choose to make the above design, you will need to add at least 24" cross braces (similar to how you proposed the 19" extension) on either end of each long wall. 12" on each side to form legs that will minimize some of the lateral movement. You can also as noted, add weight to these legs to counteract the top heaviness. So, scrap the 19", the 90 degree will provide stability and add 24" of feet (12" on each side) of both legs of the "L". Craft felt glued to the underside of the wall will more than protect the floor without adding thickness.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 04:25 PM
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Thanks for all the constructive (no pun intended) feedback. I used to me a cabinet maker of sorts; framing walls isn't something I've done a lot of.

With regards to the top heaviness of this and the need for lateral support; it is going to be pushed up square to two walls. I like the idea of the additional feet at the long ends of the wall, but in light of the fact that the structural walls of the apartment will be bracing the rear part of the structure, do you think I would need to put 12" feet on both sides of each corner? When it's pushed up against the corner of the room a love seat will go against the 74" wall and thus provide some resistance.

I want this to look as much like a structural wall as possible. I'm not looking to spend much either. I already have lots of scrap wood and access to more, but I don't want to spend much more than $100 on this.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 05:20 PM
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The problem with doing anything that looks like a real solid wall is the danger of it getting leaned on. the structural walls of the apartment won't provide any meaningful support to the ends away from the angle because their axis of instability is along the face of those walls, and any meaningful way to address that would require installing some kind of connecting hardware/boards onto or into the permanent walls. Since it's all shearing and no real pulling, you could get quite a bit of strength using a couple of heavy duty drywall anchors into the walls with screws into the anchors through the end studs before hanging the drywall (one at 4 ft and one at 6 ft above the floor on each end would provide plenty of strength for a person to lean on the thing), but that may well get you on the wrong side of the landlord, and you'd have to demo the thing to ever move it around.

No matter how you frame it, I'd still recommend against skinning it with drywall just based on the mess and effort that will be involved when you try to dismantle the thing; if you tape/mud the seams and cover over the screws, you'll have to demo out the sheet rock with a sledge or crowbar and then will have to clean up a lot of gypsum dust. Luan can be attached to the framing with construction staples and pried up when demo time comes, you'll still have seams but if you go with some kind of wallpaper rather than paint, you can just cut the paper at the seams then pry up at the edges. thin OSB would also be a low-cost way to skin the walls, but it'd definitely need to be papered over rather than painted.

If you do insist on anything that can't be dismantled into components and moved out, remember to set aside most of a day to demo out anything that's framed with 2-by lumber, and have some idea how you're going to dispose of that much scrapped material in an apartment setting.
 
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Old 03-09-15, 10:06 PM
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Hmm...

Well if we're just talking about putting some transverse feet at the ends of the long walls, I think I could make that happen, and still execute the design in the space I have.

I want to clarify that I never intended to sheath one side or both sides with Sheetrock. My plan was to make a series of frame rectangles and bolt / screw them together and insert thin Sheetrock or now perhaps Luan panels in the frames on a small 1x1 ledge that will be installed like a picture Frame in each of the larger rectangles. This way when it comes time to move it, I can just knock out the panels, unscrew the 2x3s and decide what to keep and what to junk.

It was always going to have that Japanese rice paper wall look to it, I.e light panels in a frame. A rustic look, but I did plan to paint both sides.

I really don't want to bolt it to the walls, but even if I did my concern is not with property management (they already said I could as long as I remove my wall and repair the holes when I leave), but rather being concerned with this bolting of a structure to a wall this making it no longer a partition but an actual wall and this subject to building codes, permits and fire inspections. In my mind I'm think bolted to the walls instantly makes it a wall, subject to all of the above.

I want it to be portable and moveable.
 
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Old 03-10-15, 05:13 AM
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I'd scratch the plan to use drywall as it's not a product that likes to be installed, uninstalled and reinstalled. The holes from the screws will wallow out! Luan panels should do ok.

I would think how portable the wall is perceived to be by the inspector [or whoever] determines if it needs to meet the code's electrical requirements. Securing the temporary wall to an existing wall probably means it would be considered permanent.
 
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Old 03-10-15, 05:55 AM
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I have an idea to stabilize walls, assuming you have a flat ceiling.
The corner will take care of itself and will be stable.
The 2 far ends (and middle span of walls) can be secured to ceiling.

- Run your "studs" all the way to ceiling, at ends and centers
- Used the threaded T-nut inserts shown below
- Tighten the leveler against ceiling, you should be able to find one with a larger footprint than the one I pictured


Name:  leveler.JPG
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Old 03-10-15, 06:08 AM
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Brian's idea needs to be tightened directly at a ceiling joists, or you risk popping a hole through the drywall/plaster ceiling. Laying a board (1x6) flat against the ceiling that spans multiple joists will help prevent ceiling damage from over tightening.

However, I believe the desired look is to be a partial wall, with an oriental feel. But certainly another option for consideration.
 
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Old 03-10-15, 06:33 AM
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I should emphasize only a few studs will go up to ceiling. The wall can still be partial/low.

I got this idea from 2 tools I use on a regular basis:

- Cargo Bars for the trailer
- A "3rd Hand" I use, which is an adjustable pole/clamp that goes floor to ceiling

Both of them hold pretty good

I would say though that if management said you can use anchors, that's exactly what I would do. Holes can be patched to where they would never be seen.
 
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Old 03-10-15, 09:07 AM
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You could reinforce the ends which butt against the permanent walls without bolting directly by putting a 1x2 strip along either side of the partition end (similar to a ledger board for cabinets, but vertical). That would stop the free ends from being able to sway while still allowing the unit to be moved by pulling the ends clear of the strips.
 
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Old 04-14-15, 11:21 AM
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Thank you to everyone for your feed back and help.

The Project is now complete.

The wall is basically free standing, but it is held in place in the two corners that touch the wall by door hinge pins that go through the top of the flat shelf on the wall and into little blocks of wood that are screwed to the wall. So, if you pull the two pins and slide the carpet back, the whole wall will go with it.

The two wall components are bolted at their junction with three large carriage bolts through the double studs.
 
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Old 04-14-15, 11:33 AM
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Good Job! That looks nice. So you did end up drilling a few holes in wall, which makes things a lot easier.

Your next step is to replace that acoustic guitar hanging on the wall with a Gibson Hummingbird. It will set you back about 6 grand, but is a necessity.
 
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Old 04-14-15, 12:44 PM
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Thank you - it really works nice for me. It feels totally different in the apartment now that this is in place. I ended up putting a small curtain rod in the door way for added privacy, but its not in the photo I posted.

Here's how it works: Name:  wall block.jpg
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About the guitar - yeah, that a $10 garage sale special but it plays alright - :-)
 
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