Room Remodel

Jim Doolittle

Active Member
I know a lot of cocooners are involved in "This Old House" sort of stuff and figured this was a definite Wiring Closet item. I am looking for opinions (someone to talk me out of ;)) on tearing out plaster walls in a corner room that tends to be colder than the rest of the house. We consider this room to be a mud room and plan on adding floor tile and possibly a hot tub.

My first mistake with this room was to tear out a box that extended about 18" out from the wall and 12" down from the ceiling. The entire box was built to hide a vent pipe that goes up from basement within the wall and then it came out from the wall via 90° elbows so that it could protrude from roof. That is when I saw that the wall insulation is in bad shape. Looks like it was installed by shoving it between studs and severely compacting it.

My second mistake was removing old wall board. Actually, I do not regret that so much because the wall board looked awful. Problem is that the installer used really good glue and it is very tedious to get it off the wall.

So, I suppose I should tear out the plaster wall (about 1-1/2" thick) and remove old insulation. I can then put in new insulation, vapour barrier, and drywall. If I do this, it will make it easier to add wiring for cable as well as several runs of CAT5. Room already has phone line.

Plan B would be to cover walls with a nicer wallboard that provides some insulation. I would have to account for trim around two windows if wallboard were appreciably thick. Any suggestions on such a wallboard?

Regardless of what I do with the walls, I will be adding cable/CAT5. It will be a little more work with walls intact but not so bad. Since I am thinking of a hot tub (or if not, maybe an elliptical trainer and treadmill), I will likely want to provide cable outlet for wall mount TV.

Any suggestions? Other HA opportunities with this room?
Coming from someone who ripped out every piece of sheetrock in his house I would gut the room.

I found a few hidden "surprises" when I gutted my house. Termite damage in an interior staircase (nothing active), poor to no insulation, wiring just "bug nutted together in a wall with no box, a few presents left over from the builders (that I wont describe but they were DISGUSTING) amongst a few other things.

I took the time to rewire and replumb everything and then reinsulate. I then had the windows replaced and siding redone and my energy bills dropped drastically. In addition I now have outlets where I want them, better water pressure, and at least one staircase that doesnt creak since I rebuilt it myself.

If you have the time I would rip it out. The labor is worse than the cost in my opinion but at least you can have it the way you want it in the end. Just be careful that you dont throw that balance of the house off as far as temperature. If that is the coldest room in the house I would do it. If its average it will probably be the warmest when you are done.

Just my opinion..........

I could also use some tips for the stairway creaking! I also have to refinish stairs as part of my TODO list while I am on "vacation" for a week. When I get tired with the room remodel, I need to pull staples from when there was carpet on the steps. Then I sand. Nice solid oak stairway. Shame it was covered with pink (okay...more like a reddish-peach color ;)) carpeting.
You need access to the underside of the stairs. In the center of each tread by the riser should be a small piece of wood glued in. I used a piece of wood the widh of the stair and reshimmed both ends by the stringers. This keeps the tread from sagging and creaking. If the stairs are urethaned they wont absorb moisture as much and wont need to expand and contract as much. I did mine in 2001 and no problems yet.

Be careful what glue you use. If you use a real industrial strength it may never creak but you wont be able to replace a tread later without damaging the riser etc.