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Phase 3:  Finish Work

Shop Home Page
Shop Planning
Phase 1:  Site Prep and Foundation
Phase 2:  Framing
Phase 3:  Finish Work
Phase 4:  Shop Setup

I originally planned for the office to be a 15' square, sort of "inserted" into the back corner of the building (that is, extending five feet beyond the corner in both directions).  During framing of the interior walls, however, we discovered that there was not enough space for the bathroom to be properly functional.  As a result, we bumped the inner wall of the office into the shop area by a few feet, allowing for a reasonable bathroom, slightly shortening the wood shop, and actually increasing the size of the office.  For more exterior views of the office wing, please visit other portions of this site, where you will find them in evidence.

During the electrical phase of construction, I installed outlet boxes and ran wiring, Internet, phone, and coax cable into the office walls, to several locations that would allow for versatility in the use of the space now and in the future.  Then, with the framing complete, no further work occurred on the office wing until after the insulation was installed in late January.

In early February, I prepared to install drywall on the office walls and ceilings--the only space in the shop (along with the bathroom) to receive this treatment.  Doing some rough calculations of the area, I determined that I needed 23 sheets, though there would be substantial waste from off cuts and window/door openings.  Grabbing a solitary fair weather day in a week of rain and freezing drizzle, I managed to safely deliver the drywall to the shop in preparation for a hanging marathon on the upcoming weekend.  A friend, John Irving, had amazingly volunteered to help with this task, and even seemed excited about it.  (So was I, truth be told...)

In a 10-hour day, we managed to hang all the rock on the walls and ceiling.  I had arrived early and installed some insulation batts in the office ceiling and the interior wall, since the insulation contractor only insulated the exterior ceilings and walls; I wanted the additional insulation for a sound barrier and to help the office to maintain its own temperature, since the other three heating zones in the shop would likely remain at a lower temperature than the office.

Certainly the pros would have been quicker at hanging the drywall, but we got the job done.  The job was complicated by numerous cutouts for ceiling fixtures, outlet boxes, doors, and windows, but we prevailed and, by the end of a long and tiring day, the office was ready for the tape coat of joint compound ("mud").  I had hoped to be able to apply the tape coat on the same day, but it was too late in the day and clearly it would have to wait.

The next day, I returned alone to install a few small pieces of drywall and to apply the tape coat over the seams.  I completed this all in an easy 5 hour day, and was pleased with the results.



Over the next several days, I continued working on the office (and the adjacent bathroom), and applied two additional coats of mud to all the seams.  Each coat required 2-3 hours to apply, followed by an overnights' drying time.  With so much to do, I commuted daily to ensure that I kept the progress moving along.

With the final coats of mud complete, I next turned to an unenviable task:  sanding.  Maybe the pros can lay this stuff down well enough to avoid any sanding, but I cannot.  So in a fun-filled 3 hour marathon one morning, I hand sanded all the joints to smooth them out and remove any minor ridges.  While none of the sanding was particularly heavy, every part of the job did require sanding.  When complete, however, I was pleased with the results, and moved forward with ceiling paint.  I applied two coats of flat white to both the bathroom and office ceilings.


With the ceiling paint complete, I could install the trim rings and bulbs for my recessed cans.  This went quickly, and after I wired up the switch I could finally energize the circuit.  I discovered to my dismay that one of the 7 cans in the office did not light--must be a loose wire nut or something.  With the drywall in place, there was no way to access the wiring box without removing a portion of the drywall, an irritating setback.  Lesson learned:  energize and test the circuit for hidden fixtures before covering with drywall.  Much as I hated too, I supposed I'd have to open up the ceiling in that area and repair the wiring.  Please see below to read about the fix.


In any event, it was time to continue with the finishing work in the office.  I made an appointment for a carpet installer to measure and then order the carpet for the room, and in the meantime I wanted to wrap up the trim and painting, so that I wouldn't have to worry about soiling the carpet.  I chose carpet because it is easy, inexpensive, quiet, and comfortable for an office.  More on the carpet later in the process.

After some thought, I decided to press forward with painting the walls first, and install the trim afterwards.  I chose this particular progression since the trim I bought was pre-primed (making it easier to paint later), and if I installed the trim after the walls were painted it would be quicker to paint the walls; I'd still have to cut in the trim paint later, but I would have had to do that regardless.

I began with a coat of some awful drywall primer.  It was terrible to work with, as it was cheap and unsatisfying to apply, but it did the job and covered the walls evenly.  The primer would help the finish coats spread more evenly, and avoid differences in texture between the paper drywall surface and the mudded areas. 


Once the primer was dry, in a couple hours, I rolled on two coats of the final wall color.  The actual name of the paint is too embarrassing to post here, but I chose a high quality Sherwin-Williams satin paint in a pleasing yellow (with help from Heidi).    Note:  all the pictures of the painted walls also show the trim, since I only took pictures at that juncture.


With the paint dry, it was time to attack the trim.  I began with the baseboard trim, partly because it would be the least likely to damage the fresh paint, and partly because it was the most potentially challenging portion of the trim installation, as well as the trim most critical to have done before carpet.  With a 6" concrete curb along the bottom edge of the wall--and a uneven curb at that--it seemed the best approach would be to simply cover it with a wide board, and then install additional trim above as needed.  I used 1x8 pine for the baseboard, which was tall enough to not only cover the concrete completely, but also to allow me to nail into the base plate of the wall.  I used construction adhesive to secure the pine to the concrete where applicable; in some areas, I needed cleats at the bottom edge, since the concrete was recessed from the drywall in some areas, flush in others, and standing proud in one corner.


Over the top of the baseboard, I installed a pre-milled base molding to finish off the edge and help hide the uneven transition between the pine baseboard and the walls.  I nailed the base molding into the studs.


The windows and doors required some pine extension jambs to make up the wall thickness, and then I cased out these openings using standard window and door casing, with pine stools on the four windows.


Between the office and the woodshop, I decided to install an exterior steel door, as it would provide a better seal against dust and noise.


The supply closet received some pine trim around the inside of the opening, finished off with more door casing around the edges.  I planned to install a 48" bi-fold door later in the process.

A week later, I painted the trim:  2 coats of semi-gloss pure white on everything.




With the bulk of the office work complete, I took advantage of a slow day to cut open the ceiling around the non-functioning light fixture.  I hated to open the ceiling, but could see no other way around the problem, as I was unwilling to live with the light in its current condition.

I rounded up a photo of the ceiling from before I drywalled, so that I could determine the location of the wiring box and the nearby framing.  Then, I opened the ceiling with a knife, gradually widening my opening till I exposed the strapping on each side, and enough of the ceiling was open for me to reach the fixture's wiring box.  Inside the box, I discovered that the fixture's neutral wire had not been tightly secured in the wire nut, so I replaced the nut and ensured the connection, and also tested the light to make sure that all was well.  (It was.)

Next, I cut a patch of drywall for the opening, and screwed it in place, installing additional pieces of strapping at the short ends to support the seams there.  Then, I mudded and installed the paper seam tape. 

Later in the week, when I was back up at the shop, I applied two more coats of joint compound to the repair.  I was fortunate to be able to not only apply two coats of mud in one day, thanks to the relative thinness of the coats over the repair, but also to be able to apply 2 coats of ceiling paint late in the same day, compressing the final stages of the repair into a pleasantly short time.

With the patch completed and covered with paint, it wasn't even visible, unless one were looking for it (and even then, it was tough).  I was pleased with the results, and glad to have the job behind me--an irritation for which I had no one to blame but myself.


I like carpet for offices--it's quiet and warm.  With Heidi's help, I chose a nice Berber in a blue/gray tone, with multi-colored flecks.  I ordered the carpet from Lowes, and while the installation and carpet was satisfactory, I found the whole process to be unnecessarily complex and cumbersome.

The carpet installation virtually completed the office work.  All that remained was to get some real furniture in there, and get to work!  For now, though, this folding banquet table would have to serve as the nerve center for Lackey Sailing's world headquarters.


Some weeks later, I managed to complete the work in the office.  I built a large desk using some basic Formica-covered tops (on MDF substrate), which I installed using several filing cabinets as the base.  The three-sided desk filled most of the corner of the office, and provided more than adequate space for computers, printers, and other gear.  I looked forward to settling into my new, expansive work space for good.  I filled the other corners of the office with a bookcase, drafting table, television, and a chair. 


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This page was originally posted on February 5, 2006