Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Things You Wish You'd Done

We've been doing a bit of trim and finish work over the past few months and it brings home some things that I wish I had been much more focused on. Primarily, framing.

It's clear to me now that in addition to framing for your drywaller, you also need to frame with your trim and your floor and your cabinets in mind.

What's that mean?

First, use straight, solid lumber anywhere that it's going to be creating a key nailing surface for trim.

Early on, when we were furring the walls out, we used a few inferior 2x4's that torqued out from the wall a bit in a few places. You don't notice this so much when you're working. Alas, after you spray with foam (immobilizing the 2x4), and then drywall over it, you sure do notice that the gypsum board protrudes 1/2" past the outside edge of the door jamb (you "fix" this by cutting back the gypsum board as much as you can and still hide it with trim.). You also do notice this in the corners where you have a funny gap where the tiles are square but the wall is not and the trim doesn't cover it. Which brings me to the second reminder...

Make sure your walls are square and plumb. Yes, you may have to get out the cat's paw and re-nail a 2x4, but it's worth it. This is ESPECIALLY true in bathrooms and kitchens or anyplace where you are tiling. Believe me. Here's a tip: An uncut corner piece of OSB can give you a pretty good read on square, if you don't have a framing square handy...and even if you do.

And while we're talking about "square and plumb", anywhere that you may be hanging cabinets or installing counters, you really also want your walls to be straight. You do not want some 2x4's bowing out into the room while others bow out of the room. That makes it hard to make a counter look right and to hang cabinets. A nice straight piece of OSB can help with the straight. I'd not worry too much about any irregularities down low in a kitchen space where it will be hidden by cabinets, nor up high. At counter and eye height, however, pay extra attention. Also make sure that you don't have any warping of the vertical framing members. You'll be looking for those when screwing cleats or cabinets to the wall.

And while we're talking about screwing cleats to the wall, let's talk about nailing surfaces. What about nailing surfaces? We like 'em, that's what. Lots of them. Especially in corners. Floors can bow, but you can bend trim a bit to accommodate this. Of course, if you can't find anything to nail the trim to, you're not going to bend it. Also, when you're trying to get good looking joints, you need the trim to be solidly nailed. You can't just nail into drywall and expect the trim to stay put. So, before you put away the pneumatic nailer, grab lots of scrap lumber and make sure every corner has lots of additional spacers and/or nailing blocks so that there's a nice big nailing surface at floor trim level. If the floor is funky or badly uneven, add a nailer on the sole plate too. Sometimes it's hard to get a good nailing angle.

And while we're adding blocks, make sure you also think about where cabinets may be hung or where you may be hanging shelves or perhaps even a grab bar (around a tub?). Put some additional blocking and nailing blocks at strategic locations. That will both make it much easier to secure loads to the wall later, but also stiffen the wall.

I'm not saying we had a whole lot of screw-ups, but when you're installing trim, or counters or cabinets, you're going to experience all of them. There are always work-arounds, but some are harder than others and regardless, framing screw ups can kill momentum, and make a relatively easy job take much longer.

More tips on framing HERE.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the helpful post! I never thought about having a place to nail trim. We have uneven floors and when we start our big remodel next year we're going to try to correct them as much as possible but they won't be perfect.

Anonymous said...

They never are. You can scribe the bottom of the trim and then hit it with the jigsaw, but some times, especially at a low corner, you're going to want to just pull/bend the trim down so that it joins the opposing wall trim (your cut will have to be at a slight angle so that it'll be straight after the bend).

For that, you're going to want a nice big, fat nailing target behind the drywall. :)

Good luck with the remodel!

Amanda Moran said...

Hey Mark. Long time no hear right? Just thought I'd drop by and see how things are going, congrats on the cat and the house next door and all...

Kevin and I were reminiscing last weekend about things we wished we would have done and this brings one to the forefront. Kevin said to me and I quote "you know when I was putting shoe molding down I learned about halfway through the house that the that you don't nail it to the floor but to the baseboard-that way it floats above the floor during the heat/cool seasons and doesn't gap at the baseboard."

Doh! Um, yeah, we have that problem in a few areas.

Want another cat?