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Building a L-shaped half wall....need help


hhauser's Avatar
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08-26-10, 07:03 PM   #1  
Building a L-shaped half wall....need help

I used to have a banister type thing in my living room, I have tore it down and decided to build a half wall. I am worried of it not being sturdy, I haven't started but have read a lot of posts about going into the floor joists and I did not have that in mind at all, I plan to use 2x4's, I dont have any other room than to use that and the smallest drywall sheets, I was wondering if I should use 4x4's in the corner and at the end but I dont know how to anchor that to the floor? Or if i need to go into the floor how to do that...I am wondering what everyone thinks, and if you could give me any hinters or important directions, I would appreciate it, I am a young woman and have NO constuction experience at all, I bought a newer house so I didnt have to deal with that :-) Any help is great!! Thanks!

You can see the pics here, the banister is by the TV and behind is stairs to my basement...
Living Room pictures by Heather_Hauser - Photobucket

 
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08-27-10, 03:49 AM   #2  
Welcome to the forums!! The only sub floor level support you will need will be at the end where the staircase ends presently. The end post of the staircase is probably set into the floor and attached to the framing members below, so you would only have to replicate that. Being at an angle, it will stiffen itself up, since you will be attaching the other end to the wall.
One question (thanks for the pix, BTW).....why would you want to build a wall when you have such a nice handrail? Incidentally, kiss the light from that window goodbye once the wall is built, unless you have a low wall planned. I know you have your reasons, so let us know so we can guide you through this.

 
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08-27-10, 07:37 AM   #3  
I think it's going to be a smaller wall, I plan it to be approx. 3 feet tall...I'm getting rid of the banister because it is such an awkward set up of a living room, and I feel like if I put more of a wall there, then I will have more "wall" space (even though it is going to be 1/2 wall...I also don't think it matches well at all, it seems more country than my living room feels..Ive looked at a lot of pictures of half walls and I like the way it looks better...I've also looked at different banister types and I just haven't found one that I absolutely love...so i'm winging this and praying that it works and looks as good as I (imagine) it to be :-)

 
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08-27-10, 04:23 PM   #4  
Check out your terminal post to see if it is embedded in the floor. That will be your starting point. Let us know what you find.

 
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08-27-10, 05:01 PM   #5  
I would check building codes before going to a 3í wall. While not perfectly clear from pics, it looks as if someone going over that wall is going to fall near the bottom of your basement. I would be especially concerned if children are involved as they love to climb on stuff, and even if not, your liability exposure doesnít end when selling to someone else if not built to code.

 
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08-27-10, 07:10 PM   #6  
Did you notice how the existing newel post was attached? Was it on a threaded rod in the bottom?

If you already removed it and want to go from there..... Go to a lumber yard and get 2- A44 Simpson angle hardware for solid lumber. A Angles and Z Clips Build your walls so they are 36" tall. Attach an angle on two sides of the end corner 4x4 post at the top of stairs. One angle under the carpet, opposite side of the stairs. The other one inside the wall, on the bottom plate against the 4x4. Use the stated 3Ē nails. Hook the carpet back on the tack strip.

Gary

 
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08-27-10, 08:06 PM   #7  
Oh dear, the code thing has me stumped...I am trying to research, although I believe a wall would be sturdier than my flimsy railing, it wobbled more than you know...but now I am worried, and definitley trying to figure that out, before I move on...any other help is greatly appreciated, thank you all for your help already!

 
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08-27-10, 09:21 PM   #8  
Build the wall 36" tall as I said. After you add trim board, 1x8, on top it will be over minimum ode requirements: http://www.stairways.org/pdf/2006%20...C%20SCREEN.pdf

The angle hardware I stated will give you the required 200# resistance for the wall to meet Code. Drywall both sides, setting the bottom plate back from the finished edge below for the thickness of new drywall to flush out. Tape and texture, many videos on that. Brace the walls plumb before drywall use fasteners as: http://www.gypsum.org/pdf/GA-216-07.pdf

Gary

 
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08-27-10, 10:19 PM   #9  
Hey hhauser,

Since Iím the culprit that suggested you check with your building code dept., let me explain.

My understanding, when it comes to stairs, rails, etc., is that there is not a national standard applying to all homes. Local building codes control and may differ by areas.

In terms of flimsy, I donít see that as the issue. Itís purely whether 3í tall meets (or does not meet) your local code requirements. Think about it, if there were no code requirements related to rail heights, and people starting building them 2í tall, donít you see how that could cause safety concerns? If 3í satisfies your local code, and you prefer a shorter half wall than existing height, then have at it. From your pics, I canít tell for sure whether the staircase from 1st floor to basement is straight, or shaped like an L. Iím assuming itís an L shape . . . if thatís a correct assumption, should someone go over the rail at side farthest from front door, then that drop to basement would come close to 12í-15í. When you raised the point of wanting to go w/ a shorter half wall than the existing rail, that raised a red flag in my mind . . . why was the existing rail built at a taller height? Was it because of a code requirement?

Frankly, if the building dept. gave an ok at 3í tall, I still wouldnít be comfortable leaving young children to play in that living room unattended. My concern isnít about them rolling down the stairs . . . itís if theyíre playing with toys, and use them to climb on top of the wall, and then take a long distance fall to the basement. If only adults, well they should be smart enough not to lean way over the rail.

When reading this post and looking at your pics, I recalled a local controversy a couple or so years ago. I donít remember all the details. Basically an adult had gone over a rail, and landed in the great room (alcohol may have been involved). The question raised was why exterior rails on say a balcony overlooking a golf course or ocean had a taller height requirement whereas interior ones had a shorter minimum height. In other words, if someone went over a 2nd story condo exterior rail and landed on the ground would injuries be different than for someone going over the rail on a 2nd or 3rd floor inside a home, and landing on a tile floor. The building dept. spokesperson talked about how newer homes (McMansions) today are built for openness and views, and that it was something they wanted to revisit. One idea was distance to ground in establishing a minimum height requirement rather than whether it was an exterior or interior rail system. She seemed to question in her mind the logic for the different height requirements for exterior and interior rail heights.

If wanting to assure yourself of satisfying local building codes, a call to them will give you the answer.

 
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08-28-10, 10:07 AM   #10  
Thank you again for all the advice, I will be looking into this, actually a good friend of mine is in the construction business...I did measure the old banister and it was 37 inches, so anyways, I will look into this more, thank you all for your support and advice and quick responses!

 
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