Is drywall necessary?


Old 11-21-04, 01:35 PM
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Is drywall necessary?

I'm turning an attic space into living space, and the collar ties/ ceiling joists are just enough out of level that I think they'll be a problem with drywall, but not with wood boards/paneling, which is what I plan on having on the walls and ceiling.

I know that drywall does slow a fire down, but the 120 year-old house has been ok so far, and putting up drywall in this case seems like building a sand wall to contain the tide.

And, if I should put up drywall or else, how forgiving is it? How big a difference in rafter height should there be before I adjust the rafters (if one rafter is an eighth, quarter, or a half and inch lower/higher than the next?). To what degree, if any, can drywall "smooth over" these differences?

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Old 11-22-04, 01:33 PM
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I'll let the pros answer the question about tolerances. My guess is 1/8" is OK 1/2 is not and 1/4 is iffy. But if you're going to panel it anyway it may not mater that much. Use the edge of a straight board to see what you're dealing with.

Do check your local building code, I daresay most places in the US will require drywall as a fireblock for any habitable space--even if you do panneling you need the drywall underneath. I'm told this is important for insurance reasons as well (i.e. if a fire did occur your insurer could deny coverage because of your negligence). Check the code all the way around too--an attic in an older home may not have enough floor support to allow you to turn it into habitable space.
Old 11-24-04, 10:42 PM
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Good advice caleyg, pretty much covers it all the way around.
Old 11-25-04, 06:37 AM
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Well I consider myself a pretty dam good taper and coater and If you are skilled enough and have to patence you could fix all of that with regular mud and sheet rock 20, and to be honest I would think if you put up wood paneling up that attic is gonna be really dark. Also I do custom curved drywall and when I coat the curve in some places there is about an inch of mud. The key is to put on about 3 or four coats of primer to keep it strong and sealed.
Old 11-25-04, 02:10 PM
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Agree with working with your building inspector - as the above poster suggested. You'll need to anyway if you're applying for a permit.

I've had the unpleasant opportunity to have gutted (remove plaster, lathing, etc.) many rooms in properties I own. I soon found out that the carpenters who built some of these older homes weren't too particular about keeping their studding aligned with each other. The reason, I suppose, was that they really didn't have to be too fussy. They relied on the plasterers to even up and flatten out the walls. That's why you'll find varying thickness of plaster when removing them from walls. The plasterers straightened the walls - whether the studding was in line or not.

That was fine for then. But now when it comes to drywalling these gutted rooms, you are faced with an obvious problem. And the problem sounds like the same one you're faced with in your attic. The studs aren't in line. And if you lay the drywall on irregular studding, you'll end up with wavy walls. Let me quickly say that I would 'not' suggest you flatten the walls with multiple layers of compound. For one thing - depending on how much you need to fill, you could very well end up with heavily veneered walls instead of only taped joints.

The way I tackle the problem is by shimming. Basically running a line from one end of the room to the other. Since most of the time the studs are plumb even if they're not aligned, the shim can run the full length of the stud. But it's wise to check for plumb anyway. The line will let you know how much to shim and where. This method is not new and is very similar to the one used to hang ceilings.

Anyway, whether you hang drywall up there or install paneling, you might consider doing a little extra work up front to save headaches later on.

Old 12-05-04, 05:48 PM
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Replies to drywall question

Thanks for the replies; they're all very sensible and helpful. I will put some drywall up -- though it won't be pretty. I hadn't thought of how dark the wood will make the room look, though there are three windows there now, and a skylight will soon follow.

The floor isn't strong enough to take the new load, and shortening the span with several beams pressed up on the ceiling below is on the list.

Thanks again ~

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