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A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)
Old 9th July 2019
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)

Greetings, I'm currently working through my build which was started (planning-wise) around the beginning of 2017. I started a thread on the Sayers site back then but am moving it here for reasons I may elaborate on at some point.

So I will post highlights from my initial thread, corrected, condensed and consolidated a bit due to the various rabbit holes I went down. Then I'll continue on from there and post updates as I progress. This build is my 3rd job. I also have a full time day job to pay the bills and what I would consider a full time job "homesteading". This hasn't left much time to be creative and make music. I'm looking forward to being able to fire myself as general contractor on this build so I can get back to doing what I really want to...

Last edited by thechrisl; 9th July 2019 at 07:12 PM..
Old 9th July 2019
Feb 2017:

I've worked in several "studios" over many years, each one a step better than the last but all of them essentially modified bedrooms. I'm getting ready to push ahead with the latest & greatest. I've picked up a lot on various forums going way back, even from the Usenet days. Read a few books (like Everest, Owsinski & Gervais) which helped sort good knowledge from the voodoo acoustics sometimes found online. Having said that, I feel like I know just enough to be dangerous. I also know how easy it is to miss details that can screw up a project.

I have a preexisting, detached building for this project. I decided to leave it as a single room in order to maximize space and simplify. I'm comfortable working this way.

The good news is that I am well situated, with the nearest neighbor about 200 yards away. So my sound getting out is not a major issue. The bad news is there is a tiny airstrip (or two!) a few miles away so I am cursed with occasional low flying aircraft. Trucks on the road, about 200 yards away. And we're in the country, so there is sometimes gunfire to contend with. And roosters, dogs, etc... So sound getting in is my problem.


So.... I want this space to be really flexible. I want to be able to use it for:

- mixing & half-ass mastering (stereo with an option for 5.1 at some point)
- guitar amp recording - loud
- drum recording - ~100dB
- sound design - quiet
- occasional band sessions

I've never had a good sounding room before -- usually opting to make things as dead as possible. So I'd really like to get a space that I enjoy the sound of. This is another reason for the single room design. And probably the biggest challenge overall, due to size (what many would consider small-ish).

The space is an existing "finished" room within a larger garage (left half of the pic below). The dimensions are about 23'x16'x9'.

The room is drywall over 2x4 wood studs with insulation in all walls and some above the ceiling. The entire building appears to sit on a pair of concrete slabs (one for the garage and one for the shop/studio) and has T1-11 plywood siding (which comes in 4'x8' sheets with vertical grooves). I plan to build a small adjacent room in the garage to handle HVAC, storage and equipment. It will be about 13'x7'x8'.

These aren't hyper-exact drawings, I'm not accounting for the thickness of walls, etc. I'm still trying to get comfortable w/ SketchUp. Here you can see the plan view with the new space. The dotted lines are a guide showing the 38% distance from each wall.

As is, even with a cheap hollow core door, I am getting about 20dB loss when measured 1m from the door. When playing 90dB program music on a PA in the room, I can't hear or measure anything about 200 yards away on a quiet night. This is why I'm pretty confident I won't be bothering any neighbors. The noise floor in the room (on the property overall) is about 34dBC. So far I've measured external noises (aircraft etc) at 44-52dBC while in the room. My house is across the driveway from this building and there is a new heat pump there, also a moderate source of noise.

At the moment, I'm planning to:
- Replace the two existing doors with solid core doors and beef up the threshold for both. The door to the new room will be the same.
- Build plugs for the four windows in the room.
- If the walls become a weak link at this point, I may add an extra layer of drywall in the room. This will be somewhat difficult as there are
existing outlets and light switches. In any case, I plan to (somehow) seal up the existing outlets and light switches.

I'm planning to use Rod's idea of a separate air exchange in the new room. There are a lot of unknowns here but I would like to have a system spec-ed out before I start building. HVAC and fresh air with minimal noise is something I have difficulty getting my head around. I also need to consider that I will be working alone about 80% of the time but need to accommodate more if the need arises, maybe 6 people.

Since the room dimensions are established, I'm planning to take Rod's advice here and live with what I have (rather than slanting walls, etc). So don't have a specific plan yet, but it will likely involve a great deal of broadband bass traps, superchunks, etc. Diffusion if necessary. Probably a cloud over the mix desk. Mode calculations indicate I will have problems in the 200-400Hz area. Again I'm hoping to get a good sounding room here, not just a flat dead one. There's also the matter of wanting *both* a good live room and a good mixing room.

Last edited by thechrisl; 8th August 2019 at 10:27 PM..
Old 9th July 2019
Feb 2017:

Here's a view over the top of the studio room, from where the equipment room will be. It's fairly standard construction, with 2x4 trusswork spaced 24" apart. The existing ceiling (only in the studio) is attached to the underside of the chords.

(My initial thought was that I could really use more height. It would be possible to remove the existing ceiling and make the roof become a vaulted ceiling. A pretty big task. I concluded that anything is possible with enough time and money. But since neither is limitless, you have to start making boundaries. I decided I'd have to live with the 9' ceiling -- which will probably be 8' after soundproofing and treatment. Far from ideal, but I know there are people who were able to make it work with an even lower ceiling.)

Here's another view of the garage from the spot where the equipment room will be.

Here's a picture of the actual studio space. Sorry it's a huge mess. And purple for some reason. But as you can see, it is a "finished" room. There are four windows, unfortunately, (shown in the original drawing).

Here is the doorway between spaces. There are two of these heaters, which I plan to remove. Note also the foot tall concrete "stem wall" which surrounds the entire room. It's a big reason why I would have a hard time expanding this space.

Finally a barbaric hand drawn as-built sketch, showing the studio room with exterior wall on the left and garage on the right. I forgot to draw the insulation above the ceiling. I use computers for just about everything these days -- but still can't quite get a handle on using SketchUp efficiently.

(Turns out the drywall is 1/2". Not ultralight, not firecode, it's that stuff in the middle you can't get these days.)

Last edited by thechrisl; 9th July 2019 at 08:37 PM..
Old 9th July 2019
May 2017:

Another follow-up: Things have slowed down considerably now that we're into prime mowing season (and honey-do season). It will probably be fall before I get to serious building. But the design still rages on...

I've come to the conclusion (or grudging acceptance) that I'll need to remove the inner drywall from the studio room and build a new leaf. I've been brainstorming options for the room orientation & changes required to doors and windows. The goal is to maximize space while not going overboard with the amount of work (aka time & expense) required to make it happen.

(A bit of back & forth on the overall room layout ensued & I spent a few months deciding.)
Old 9th July 2019
Mar 2018:

Wow, it's been a minute. Just checking to say I'm still working at this! Here's a little recap -- I came to the conclusion that I need to get very organized in order to make this happen. We have so much "stuff" that I realized it's going to be a feat just to clear out the studio space so I can really get to work on it. I also realized I'm going to need additional space just to work on things. So this decent sized building (essentially a 4 car garage for 3 cars) is going to have to be a studio, workshop, garage, storage area and -- my wife might want to use it for gardening stuff (like, a lot). So here's what's been going on (sorry if it leans a little Garage Journal-ish at first):

-- I picked up a couple Costco carports & set them up next to and behind the building. Put a bunch of lumber, lawn & garden equipment under them for the winter and tied them down a bit. A couple months later I realized there's wind and then there's WIND:

So, yeah. I had to drag this giant sail about 100 yards and bend it back into place. Then tie it down in every way possible. That was fun.

-- I built a work/storage bench, mostly from scrap. This allowed me to clear a lot of space and begin work on the aforementioned equipment room.

-- Which is actually coming along nicely:

What you see on the right is the outer shell of the studio.

Now that spring (and the dreaded mowing season) is upon us, I'm running into a bit of analysis paralysis on the HVAC/ventilation. I want to finish this room up soon so I can put things in it. I need to keep it cool once summer hits because there will be a freezer in there, and some paint & solvent storage.
Old 9th July 2019
Mar 2018:

Here is a sort of "as-built" showing the way the studio is today, with notes on what I plan to do. It's based on some of the things discussed earlier in the thread. It's a lot of work but I think it will greatly improve the ergonomics of the room and make treatment easier & more effective.

So I have a ways to go before I start the meat of the studio build. Part of this includes cutting down the 16x7 garage door to 12x7 and adding a small access door(!).

My immediate concern is that I want to finish up the equipment room and get some HVAC/ventilation going in both rooms.

Last edited by thechrisl; 9th July 2019 at 09:14 PM..
Old 9th July 2019
Apr 2018:

A few more updates:

This was a good opportunity to get some building experience. I've done some of these things, but never framed and walled a room. The biggest challenge with the framing was keeping everything plumb and level. This becomes especially difficult when you realize the existing walls (and floor) are not that way to begin with! So then it's a matter of getting things as close as possible. But you come to realize that little errors get magnified. If a stud isn't quite plumb, the drywall won't line up on it properly and your screws will miss it. Then the next sheet of drywall becomes a problem. On and on. A lot of people know this stuff already but a lot may not. This room doesn't need to be airtight or soundproof -- but the next one will.

From outside, insulation almost done.

From the garage, finally a place to hang ladders! By the way I'm still debating on whether to try and finish the drywall myself of pay someone else. I've attempted it several times in the past and the results were always less than stellar. I may just pass it on this time (and in the big room too)!

(In case anyone is wondering, this side of the garage still fits a mid sized SUV. Barely.)

A word on electrical -- since this is a small equipment room I dedicated one 20A circuit to the outlets and lights. But there will be an additional outlet sharing the same circuit as the Studio. That way my PC, converters, mic pres etc will all be on the same circuit, hopefully minimizing ground loops. Electrically it will be as though any studio gear in Equipment Room is in the Studio -- while any other stuff, like the refrigerator, will be on a separate circuit.

I made another executive decision on the floor plan. After speaking to a concrete guy about some flatwork we need done around the building, I realized the lay of the land is such that, any new exterior door could lead to issues with water coming in under the door (it rains a lot). So any concrete work will require some grading, and to avoid the water intrusion, we'd have to raise the ground level up to the point that it will require a step down to get into the Studio. I really don't want to mess with that if I can help it so I decided there will be no new exterior doors. I will still be removing the existing door but now I will keep the door in the garage (and it will become a Super Door, or more likely a pair of Super Doors). In other words all the doors will be very close together -- something I wanted to avoid initially due to the proximity of the fuse panel and to keep the two sides of the building separated. But in another way it makes a lot of sense. I'll have to walk through an extra door to get in the building but I will avoid a lot of the exterior issues I tried to describe. And no steps. And better security. This probably made little sense so here's a sketch:

I still plan to remove the two windows along that bottom (north) wall. There will still be a single window at each end of the Studio.

As a side note to my post from several weeks ago -- I'm still working out the HVAC/ventilation details. I'm likely going with a split ducted heat pump that will just be a standard installation for now and get retrofitted for silence during the Studio build. I'm just not sure how to go about doing that without having to tear things up in the future. For example I can use regular ducts for now and then build in the baffles later but I'm not sure where the ideal placement would be (holes in wall). There's also the matter of passing the various tubes & pipes through the exterior wall in such a way as to not become concerned with flanking noise down the road. I need to resolve this soon.

Meanwhile, I'm finishing up the drywall on the interior (those other pics were from last week). The panel lift (Harbor Freight) is absolutely necessary to make this a one person job. As you can probably see I still struggle with getting minimal gaps and working around outlet boxes. I hope the drywall finishing guys can deal...

I expect the air handler unit will go in that far right corner, with the pump unit much further down the exterior wall (as far away as possible). I stubbed out a pair of 8AWG 3 conductor cables for that purpose -- they should be sufficient for two 40A circuits which I hope is more than enough.

Old 10th July 2019
(By this point I had reluctantly decided to on a Room in Room strategy for soundproofing. The existing walls are the outer leaf so I have to remove the existing drywall & insulation, then seal all the cracks & gaps, and reuse the old drywall against the siding. The existing ceiling is an outer leaf as well. Technically with the roof, it creates a 3 leaf situation, but since there are soffit vents where roof meets wall, and then a large peak -- it's far from airtight so it's not a true leaf. At least this was the consensus when I asked around.)

Aug 2018:

Another update as another year goes flying by. We have concrete! And fence posts! Great news but not exactly on topic. Well, sort of.

Here you can see the original entrance to the studio. To get the grade right, the ground here is now about 10 inches higher than it was. That would have necessitated a step down -- something I did not want. It would have been the same issue if I put a new door in around the corner to the left (as previously planned).

Also, I'm working on removing that piece of siding so I can frame the hole and seal it all up.

Here's the inside. Thankfully it was not big deal for the contractors to fill in that stem wall while they were at it. I was a bit stressed about how watertight this would be in a situation where driving rain hits the side of the building and rolls down. Given that it's a single piece of concrete (rather than a separate pad and wall with a seam in between), it should be fine. Still I'm hoping to get some good rain before I start building the inner shell. It's drought season at the moment.

Just in case, I had them pin the edges of the new wall with rebar. The conduit runs under the driveway and sidewalk to the house -- it will contain CAT5 or fiber so I won't have to rely on wifi from the main house.

I wasn't able to get satisfying answers on the HVAC so I am just going without at the moment (July was one of the hottest on record here). I even had someone out to get a quote and they never actually sent me one.

As I wrap up the loose ends outside (there are so many!) and work on removing drywall from the outer leaf, I hope to get down to business this fall and start the studio design for real.
Old 10th July 2019
Nov 2018:

Thought I'd throw out a quick update here. I'm quite stuck on this concept of "beefing up" the outer leaf w/o setting myself up for moisture problems in the future. I've looked at a few threads but haven't found a great deal of detail oriented solutions. I do have Rod's book and his example on filling stud bays with drywall is the basis for what I'm trying to do.

Rather than rehash this my whole thread up to this point, I started up one on Gearslutz and PMed a few folks there for input. Lately I've had a marginally better chance of getting some input there than here. I guess this is what happens when everyone wants to build a studio at once. It's all folks asking and few answering. In any case, here's the thread as background.

I have thought about just cladding the entire studio end of the building in a layer of siding in order to add mass, rather than working from inside. It's one of the options described in the GS thread. However, since there is no wrap or barrier on the building now, I would probably want to put Tyvek or something over the existing siding & then another layer of siding. But if I do that, sealing any air gaps between layers will be difficult because it will require sealant on both sides of the wrap (which would negate effectiveness of the wrap). So I could end up with a situation where noise gets in from the top & bottom:

OK beefing up: The procedure is fairly simple: you just cut panels of some type of "mass", often drywall, to fit in between the studs of your outer-leaf, caulk around the edges, then hold them in place with cleats, nailed sideways into the studs. On your GS thread I saw you are concerned about moisture, and that's a valid concern. One option would be to use Green Glue between your existing outer-leaf and your beef-up panels. That would seal them joint fully air tight so no moisture would be able to get in, thus no condensation, and would also have acoustic benefits. Of course, it ain't cheap!

I really can't see you having a problem, assuming that your garage is built properly, with a breathable moisture barrier on the outside (eg, Tyvek), and proper attention to water flow. The caulk seals the edges of the beef-up panels in place, and the cleats keep them held up tight against the existing leaf, so I don't see much opportunity for moisture to form in between. As long as you do your vapor barrier as required by local code, you should be fine.
I have the example from Rod's book, which makes perfect sense for an interior wall. But as mentioned in the GS thread, there is no barrier on the building currently. Just a single layer of siding, nothing else (other than the insulation and drywall which I am removing). This is probably code for this area since the building was built as a detached garage, not a living space.

The green glue sounds like a possibility. I assume the idea would be to eliminate any voids between layers? I'm not 100% sure but I think if the interior is warm and the exterior is cold, there would still be condensation potentially - on the interior face of the drywall, which would be touching the insulation. A GS user from Europe suggested it was common practice there to include a layer of foil placed between siding and drywall as a moisture barrier but gave no specifics. I would assume plastic could work there as well, or even Tyvek. But I really don't know -- and it would complicate the process of sealing the edges.

In the GS thread, I referenced another thread where someone had applied the beef-up with disastrous results. His OSB mass layers got wet & disintegrated inside the wall, weakening the siding and causing it bow outwards. He had to replace it all! I PMed him for details on how he resolved this but have not heard back.

My understanding is that I "should" be OK given that I apply a suitable vapor barrier at some point -- which would be the inner leaf. I don't have the design for that worked out and it will likely be some time before that gets built. I'm just trying to prepare by getting the outer leaf ready - and the insulation replaced before winter comes.

Just to reiterate, my main concern is not with rain penetration but with vapor condensation -- something that feels a bit like black magic to me. I've read a few articles where it seems like this rarely gets done correctly, even on modern buildings. So I find it easy to overthink. Easier when I consider my outer leaf will be permanently inaccessible once finished.

I'd love find someone local to consult with about this (purely the construction aspects, not the soundproofing). But siding, roofing & HVAC guys tend to work within the tight constraints of conventional construction. I want someone who really knows what they're talking about, not a best guess, which I have no shortage of myself. I'm not sure what other tradesperson I could ask about this...
Old 10th July 2019
Dec 2018:

So... I've been pushing ahead, working on the outer shell & trying to simplify by removing some windows.

Here is one of the side windows with trim removed.

I also built the shed attached to this wall in my "spare" time.

Window out. All I had to do, framing wise, was add a couple 2x4s in line with the existing studs. I used pocket screws for better strength. In framing overall I use nails but when space is tight or the only way to fasten is with toe nailing, I prefer pocket screws. I never got the hang of toe nailing.

Removing this kind of siding can be tricky because it overlaps in 4' sheets. So it's hard not to remove one piece without destroying another. Plus you may end up removing 2 whole sheets when you only needed, maybe 4'. I got around this by cutting the siding about an 1/2" away from the grooves. Then I chipped the top layer of siding away and smoothed it out. This allows a custom piece of siding to lay over the gap, kind of like a hat. This way, you can make any size hole (8 inches at a time -- that's the distance between grooves). This was a bit of a pain but it wasn't all that bad compared to possibly removing way more siding than I needed to.

Here's an example of the existing siding. I did this on both sides. Normally I would have gone to the top but in this case, I had to work with the ledger board so I had cut the siding up there before putting the ledger board up.

Here is the new siding. I used a router to extend the overlap so it's about 1" on both sides. Again I think of it like a hat that lays over the old siding.

The overlap gets caulked and of course I will be caulking all this from the inside as well. The only other tricky part was getting the nails to go through studs. I don't know how siding people do this all day every day. Even after placing lines on the siding to tell me where the studs were, I still missed some.

At this point I have removed two windows and a door from the room. Here you can see the old door is gone (down at the end).

Also, in another epic project, I took apart the garage door, shortened it by 4 feet, then framed and added a new door next to it. This will be the only entrance to the building other than the lift doors. The studio shell begins about halfway between the door and that patch of siding.

I guess it's been a really productive year. Though it still feels like I will never actually make music in here.

For those keeping up, I mentioned a few posts back that I wasn't sure what to do about the electrical panel (which is right near that patch of siding). I'm thinking I may have a way to move it to the outside of the studio, which would be great! The alternative was to build a narrow "super door" on the inner shell, just for access. While this can be done to code, it will be expensive and make it more difficult to treat the room. I also have about 6 holes in the frame where romex is passing through to the garage. Plus the ground wire is leaving a big air gap in the siding. It would be best if I could remove most of that and seal the holes. Though I plan to do most of the wiring it will still require an electrician to move the panel and reconnect the mains and ground. Electricians don't come cheap in this area. Or even come, half the time. More on this soon, I hope.
Old 10th July 2019
Dec 2018:

The last post was basically how I spent my summer and fall. Now I am finally working on the beef-up of the exterior. In my earlier post I was experiencing a lot of doubt about using drywall without sheathing or wrap. I had referenced a Gearslutz thread in which someone used several layers of OSB in their wall, only to have it rot a few years later. I never got more detail from him, which was unsettling. After a lot of reading & sending emails to the likes of Owens-Corning and Tyvek (which didn't help much), I finally came across a post by Rod explaining how vapor & condensation works in this context -- I feel pretty confident that it will be OK. Once the siding is caulked from the inside there should be no water intrusion. I found some gaps by the sill plate (near that ground wire I mentioned previously) and the siding was a little dark around there -- not from water but from moisture I'm sure. I've since nailed the siding down better and caulked it well. I still need to figure out what to do with the ground wire.

The point being that I think once everything is sealed and there is insulation up, then an air gap, then another wall with insulation AND a vapor barrier, there should be a really good sized thermal break between the warm side and the cold side. Plus, as I understand it, drywall and plywood are pretty good at passing any vapor that should present itself, rather than trapping it. I hope I'm right.

So here is a pic of the beef-up, in progress.

One thing that troubles me is the use of cleats. I've been reusing the old drywall and, so far, due to pieces not being perfectly square & straight, I end up with gaps around the drywall between 1/8" and 1/2". I have a variety of backer rod sizes so that shouldn't be a problem. I'm using liberal amounts of SC-175 to caulk the edges.

I've been using scrap blocks of 1x wood (AFTER the caulk) to keep the drywall tight against the wall. But I'm not using full length pieces that cover all edges. I'm confident the drywall is secure but I'm thinking there isn't much mass around the perimeter. It's just a thin layer of caulk.

Is this a valid concern? Or is the point really to stiffen the wall to limit flexing and also make it completely airtight?

Any suggestions on this would be appreciated. I'm planning on doing more of this today. If it is wise to cover the perimeter with cleats, it would stand to reason that (yet) another round of caulking would be needed as well -- to bond the mass of the cleats to the mass of the drywall. This seems like overkill to me & Rod never went to that level of detail. It's really easy to overthink this because I've learned rule #1 with soundproofing is that what sounds like a good idea may be a bad idea -- and things that seem unimportant can be crucial.

Typically, I think people put up cleats to press the drywall firmly against the material behind it. Then they will caulk the entire perimeter excluding the cleat areas. Then, after the caulk cures, they move the cleats to an already caulked area and then apply caulk to the areas the cleats originally were. This ensures that the drywall is pressed firmly against the other material.

Also, regarding your comment about "just a thin layer of caulk" -- caulk has ~ twice the surface density that drywall has. This means that if you are using 1/2" drywall, you need to do your best to ensure you've applied at least 1/4" bead of caulk. Using backer rod to fill the first half of the void depth will then allow you to fill the rest with caulk and maintain your surface density. Personally, unless the gap is quite large, I avoid using backer rod because it is expensive and takes a very long time and a lot of effort to install.
Thanks for the reply. So if what you're saying is true, I should be OK. It stands to reason because, if the cleats were meant to add mass, they really would have to cover 100% of the perimeter and probably be caulked as well.

So far, I've found that once I get the rod installed, the drywall stays in place by itself. I can caulk the whole thing & work it in, then just press the cleats in tight and nail them in. I put a temporary shim on the bottom and then rod/caulk that the next day.

I think what I need to do is just lay the caulk on really thick so I can get that bead (I'm using 5/8" drywall so 1/4"+ at least). I had a few gaps that were too big for 1/2" rod, so I used 5/8" It made the rod stick out more than normal, which made the bead thinner. I went back and laid another bead over the top so hopefully I'm good.

I've always understood the rod serves two purposes. One, to allow the caulk bead to take on an hourglass shape so that it holds up longer with minimal shrinking or cracking. It also keeps you from using too much caulk. I would need about 2x the amount of caulk if I didn't use rod. So I'd have a bit more mass but more risk of cracking due to the frame expanding and contracting.

I can get 350' of 3/8" rod at my local big box for $27. That's $.08 per foot.
I can get a 12 pack of SC-175 for $78, or $6.50 per tube. I can make a tube last roughly 1.5 stud bays, or about 25'. $.26 per foot.
It would be closer to $.50 per foot if I didn't use rod. That's how it works out for me at least.
Old 10th July 2019
Jan 2019:

Right. There's no harm in using too much caulk, as long as you use the type that does not shrink at all, and does not crack. The issue, as you say, is cost. Caulk is about twice the density of drywall, so as long as your caulk is at least half the thickness of the drywall, you still have the same surface density across the entire leaf.
Old 10th July 2019
May 2019:

Time for another update, or, how I spent my Spring...

Not very dramatic but this is a pic after finally cutting the lighting circuit in the room. I ran extension cords to all the lights in the room and wired up a temporary box in the corner on another circuit. Later this year I'll be removing those receptacles, patching the holes and adding another layer of drywall to this ceiling (which is the outer leaf).

For the most part, it's been about the beefing up -- a very slow process. This is one of the removed windows, after being framed in with new siding and caulking underway. The window and doors take so much longer due to the extra pieces of drywall needing to go in smaller spaces.

Here's an example of an area above one of the removed windows. This is after removing the drywall & insulation, then cleaning up the space and caulking the framing. Here you can see the new piece of siding butting up to the old one. I also recently discovered it helps to write the dimensions in each space so I don't have to keep re-measuring. I just measure exactly & then remove 1/4" from each edge.

Now with the drywall and some backer rod.

Caulked in place with the cleats. There is still a spacer on the bottom. I typically come back the next day to fill those in.

Here's an entire wall in various states of progress. I added strapping to hold up the insulation. Not sure if I mentioned this but all the paper has been removed since I will have a proper vapor barrier on the inner leaf.

At this point I'm about 60% done with the wall beefup...

More to come...

Good work! The beef up and boxing in outer leaf crap is a nightmare. It feels like I'm never going to finish. You're right about all of the little pieces you need to add to ensure your surface density is consistent everywhere. Thanks for sharing the pictures!
Old 10th July 2019
May 2019:

You're right, it does seem to take forever. The inner leaf build seems like it will never happen, but maybe it doesn't take as long.

Here are a few more updates.

One other detail on the beefup -- When I got to the back wall, I noticed some moisture damage and/or mold. I think it is due to a couple factors. One is from old paint on the exterior. The other from loose nails in the siding and general gaps, mainly at the bottom. The building has since been painted and of course I will be caulking everything from the inside. So hopefully this won't be coming back. The wood itself feels solid & the drywall was fine. I put some Kilz primer over the discoloration -- it's supposed to help kill any leftover mold or mildew. This pic shows that, along with a corner that proved to be difficult. I think it's what framers call a California Corner -- which uses less wood. It's kind of hard to see but if you look at the top plate where the studs meet you can see there is about a 2" void running down the entire wall. There was no way I was going to get caulk inside that gap.

The solution was to just fill the gap with insulation & cover it with a 2x4, then caulk it. So there's a tiny 3rd leaf situation in this corner, don't tell anyone...

Old 10th July 2019
May 2019:

Some other things happened beyond the beefup...

Here is a window plug made from one layer of 3/4" MDF and one layer of OSB I had laying around. It weighs significantly more than the existing beefed up wall. I used green glue between the layers after priming for better adhesion. Mainly I just didn't want the GG to soak into the OSB & possibly de-laminate it.

Here's one of the windows. I stripped it down to the frame, got everything caulked so I knew it was sealed, then built up the surface so I'd have something to press against. I don't expect I'll ever take this out unless the window gets broken.

Then I used some marine grade weather stripping to make the seal. This is EPDM rubber which I think makes a really good seal. But... I didn't realize until later that it's really hard to glue together. So I had to buy some super special glue to seal the corners together and make it airtight. I put an extra square in each corner for reinforcement. The plug is attached with a series of screws around the perimeter (between the seals). I plan on doing the other window the same way.

Just FYI, for the inner leaf, I plan to have a plug over each window & will open them once in a while to check on moisture between the walls with a meter. I don't expect any but since I have a non-standard exterior (no house wrap or sheathing), I just want to have something in place to check. If I have a slight problem I can run a fan into one window and out the other once in a while. If I have a big problem I may have to consider adding house wrap and another layer of siding, which I really hope is not necessary.

This will be an added complication due to the acoustic treatment on the walls, audio monitors and possibly a video monitor. It's something I'll have to work through with the inner shell design. It's not uncommon to have windows in a studio -- I'm just covering mine up.

The door...

I decided to move the door away from the corner for two reasons. One, to make room in the corner for acoustic treatment. The corners are most important and I wanted to maintain symmetry in the room. The other is to make room for the electrical panel I'm trying to move outside the studio. More on that in a bit.

Here's the doorway looking into the studio with framing removed. I had a guy come out with a concrete cutter to remove that piece of stem wall.

One might expect that the concrete between the two sides of the wall was perfectly level, but that person would be wrong. So now I have this situation, where it's pretty much flush on the right, but not on the left:

After some research, what I plan to do is use a chipping hammer to get rid of this concrete, then something like Quikcrete to create a level surface for a door threshold. Kind of a pain but what isn't? I'll follow up as that progresses.
Old 10th July 2019
May 2019:

Last but not least, the panel...

I finally found an electrician who seemed to understand what I want to do and won't charge me an arm and a leg to do it. Just an arm.

So here is the existing panel on the inside of the studio. It's kind of a rat's nest with the drywall removed and my temporary wiring. You can also see the new bit of wall I put up as part of the door move.

The feeder cables come up through the foundation in that conduit. They are only so long and can't be extended. So we're planning to re-route the conduit directly into the other corner. I got a new panel which will be inverted and installed on the other side of the wall. It will be lower to accommodate the feeder length. My main concern is how well I'll be able to get some mass into the conduit to maintain isolation. Worst case I might have to build a little MDF box around the conduit once this is done. We'll also be running a new ground from the new panel through the wall in the garage. So I'll finally be able to access this corner and seal it all up!

Here is the other side of the wall. I built a fake "stud bay" to make room for the new panel and wiring. I still need to remove the bottom piece of drywall so I can make alterations to this wall. Why? Because I still don't have the exact dimensions necessary for the new door. I'm still working on the design. The door guy I spoke too has proven to be flaky like just about everyone else out here. I may have to build the door frame from scratch.

For this summer I'm hoping to finish the wall beefup and door, at least. I'd also like to get a basic HVAC system (baffles and fresh air to be retrofitted later) because it gets hot in here! That's all for now...

Good work! Are you windows maintaining the surface density of your leaves?
Yes, each plug is more dense than the surrounding wall will be. I feel pretty good about the seals except for possibly the bottom edge. I may need to wedge something in there to hold it tight.

Sealing up your conduit: you could build boxes like you said, but stuffing insulation down the conduit and using a crap load of caulk in them should do the trick (as long as the caulk is below the concrete).
I'm not too worried about the foundation side. It disappears into the concrete and then goes underground. So there's no chance of sound getting in from that side. I'm more concerned about the other side, the one going through the wall.
Old 10th July 2019
May 2019:

Great news, I finally got the panel moved! This was a bigger deal than it should have been. But I'm stoked that I can finally beef up this corner of the room and don't have to make special arrangements for an extra door, not to mention the difficulty in placing bass traps here.

This is the wall, all cleaned up. The conduit should not interfere with the inner leaf wall once it goes up. Other than beefing up, I just need to fill the holes in the top plate used to pass wiring through. I will keep a few in order to wire up the studio and there is one circuit (visible) running to the outside of the building. But those holes can be caulked easily.

Here is the new panel on the other side of the wall. I'll do another post on how I sealed up the conduit. I'm not 100% sure it was enough but we'll see. I also got a new & modern ground out of the deal. Two bonded rods instead of one!

Old 10th July 2019
July 2019:

(That brings us up to date. I'll post another update soon.)

Old 2nd August 2019

I know it's way late in the game now, but I'm EXTREMELY concerned about the ceiling framing in your March 2018 update.

I cannot recommend framing your ceilings like this. Nor would any licensed carpenter/contractor. You have very little structural support for your ceiling joists! I cannot believe no one caught this and brought the issue to your attention from your initial drawings in February of 2017. It would have saved you a lot of now pressing issues.

While I see that you are using clips, you're only using 2x4's which are not near enough wood to use in that situation. You need to use a minimum of a 2x6 or larger, to provide enough strength for that hanging dead weight. I am also skeptical that it will provide enough rigidity to prevent it from resonating pretty badly. I would have run them parallel to your existing joists and let them rest on the top plates - as in conventional construction. That way, if you found you needed to add more mass to the ceiling, you would be able to.

As of now, I don't know what you can do, other than tear out the ceiling and start over. Your ceiling does not appear to be safe with anything more than maybe 1/4" gypsum... if then.

Sorry to be the barer of bad news, but you have a serious issue to address.
Old 3rd August 2019
Are you talking about the pic of framing from March 18? That was my equipment room, which is only about 7' wide. Those are 2x4 on 16" centers, which should be no problem with a 7' span. Even with 5/8" drywall and storage above. I... Hope...

If you were thinking that was my studio room, which is a 14' span, I would agree that would be bad news. I haven't started that yet, but would probably use 2x10 or 2x12. As it happens, I just did a thread on Garage Journal where I pointed out the gross inconsistencies between a pair of joist calculators I was using to start investigating this. Something like 2' of disparity with the same input data!

This is the one I've been using:

And this is the one that doesn't agree. I suspect there's a bug in this one.

And just fyi, my outer shell is already in place with the existing 1/2" drywall nailed (!) to the trusses. I'm not sure if I mentioned this but I had a scare earlier this year when a couple different electricians pointed out -- with great alarm -- the various holds drilled into the trusses all over this building (which I did not do).

A few $$$ later, I had a local structural engineer come out & take some measurements, look at the holes and run some numbers for me. He was confident I could handle a 2nd layer of 5/8" on that ceiling. But not a 3rd layer. So that's my plan for the outer leaf ceiling.
Old 8th August 2019
xaMdaM I hope I allayed your concern...
Old 8th August 2019
Here's a little update on the entry door. The one I moved a couple feet away from the corner to make room for the distribution panel and allow clear space for any corner treatment.

This is the bit of wall that was cut out to widen the existing doorway:

I picked up a chipping hammer from Harbor Freight and made fairly short work of it, just trying to bring everything down to a level so I can build it back up again.

Here is the form I built to screed the new mortar with. This was by far the hardest part, requiring endless tweaking. Nothing was level in any direction. I established a flat surface and filled underneath with bits of scrap, then finally caulk to fill in the small gaps. Later I had to scrape the caulk out. Probably not the best way to go about it but I couldn't come up with a better way. The suggestions I got from other forums were not very helpful (like "just install the door and then shove stuff under it").

Here it is after the pour. I used Quikcrete Polymer Modified Structural Repair. It dries pretty fast so that was a bit stressful. It took about 30min although I technically had 20 to work with. I have no idea how people pour entire driveways and make them flat.

Finally with some caulk to round out the edges and a bit of primer to seal things. That front lip is only about 1/4" high. It's the direction the door will open so I have the added benefit of making sure the door won't scrape the slightly uneven garage floor.

So with that behind me I was able to finish rough framing the doorway. I used 2 king studs to help beef it up. Since this won't be a single superdoor but a pair of semi-superdoors, it's not going to weigh 500lbs. More like 150lbs -- which is a bit more than the beefed up wall will weigh.

I've resigned myself to building this door from scratch so I already have the jamb material, hinges and the door blank (solid wood, no holes). I ordered the recommended seals from Zero International via a local dealer. They're no Amazon Prime -- it takes around 8 weeks to get your shipment!

So next steps, start working on the door jamb & hinges. Meanwhile, the outer leaf beefup continues. I'm about to finish the last window & then it's just "normal" stud bays from there on.
Old 15th August 2019
Following up on the panel. Again, it is now mounted to the outside of the outer leaf (in the garage). There is a hole cut into the wall for conduit and the feeder cable to pass through. The wall was already beefed up with one layer of drywall and one layer of plywood.

I sealed it from the inside using putty. It's pushed pretty far in there and is probably about as dense as the caulking would be.

And this is the other side. The inner leaf will be completely independent of all this.

So I'm thinking the hole is sealed up pretty well. Any thoughts?
Attached Thumbnails
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Last edited by thechrisl; 8th October 2019 at 06:35 PM..
Old 5th September 2019
Lives for gear
Originally Posted by thechrisl View Post
Any thoughts?
Looks great too me, what kind of putty did you use?
Old 6th September 2019
It's a duct sealer they sell in the hardware stores around here. Comes in a small brick & feels a bit like clay. I'd say it's pretty close to the mass of SC175 caulk.
Old 8th October 2019
Time for another update. The beef up continues to slowly progress. I have the last exterior wall opened up and am getting ready to fill that in. Then I'll just have one more interior wall, which should be easier. I also need to go back and fix the section where the old panel was installed. Because that wall was damaged for some reason and has a patch over it I will just replace that section of siding. Hopefully before it gets too rainy...

I'm also seriously considering removing the window that no one can see from the outside. That way I'll have one end wall totally available for treatment. I'm not sure whether it will be the front wall or back -- they both have unique requirements. Whichever I choose, the other will will have a window to deal with. Again I plan to plug both leaves just so I can access the window if it gets damaged.

I started fixing up the ceiling, filling in where the outlets were, patching up any cracks and caulking the perimeter. Again I will be adding a 2nd layer of 5/8" firecode drywall to finish the outer leaf ceiling.

This is a pretty good snapshot of the remaining walls and one of the ceiling outlets:
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2517.jpg

Here is the patched siding and one window I plan to keep, just for show:
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2343x.jpg
Attached Thumbnails
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Old 8th October 2019
The rest of this update involves the outer door. I tried to find someone local to help build the door but came up short. Good contractors of the conventional sort are really hard to find in these parts for some reason. Ask them to go off script a bit for your special project and they just give you that look, like you're a flat earther or something. Obviously I am not talking to the right people. And I got lucky with the electrician, although there wasn't anything special about that. Just a guy who wanted a panel moved from this wall to that wall...

So I resigned myself to challenge my carpentry skills and build this thing myself. I haven't seen too many details from others on this so I'll try to explain the process as I've been making it up.

I ordered a pair of solid core wood door slabs (no holes or cuts) for my inner and outer walls. They weigh about 100 lbs. Since my outer leaf is a bit light, the 100lb door is more than adequate. Anything more would be overkill. For the inner door I plan to attach a piece of mdf to the slab. The combined mass will match the 2 sheets of 5/8" firecode drywall used for the inner leaf.

I also picked up some 5/4 Meranti for the jamb. I hear it makes good jamb material. Actual thickness is 1", which (after seeing the hinges) makes me a little nervous. For the inner door, I may replace the hinge jamb with something thicker.

I looked to Zero International for seals and hinges as they are considered a standard. They are now owned by Allegion, which is a huge conglomerate. Naturally it made it much harder to find details on the little corner of the business which is Zero. After lots of digging I found some recommendations and even a local supplier!

This is the build I'm aiming for. It's their most robust option as far as seals go:
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-zero_full_line_catalog_112255_110.png

A couple assumptions I'm making:

-- The usual disclaimers about STC apply. My understanding is that a true STC55 door would be quite a bit more massive than what I have, but this sealing system will provide slightly less soundproofing than the door slab (STC52 vs STC55). So I figure if my door weighs about 30% more than the wall, the seals will provide an equivalent transmission loss to the wall (assuming I don't screw up the installation). Likely in the range of STC35.

-- More importantly, the two doors should work together with the MAM system to provide slightly less transmission loss than the walls without doors. I figure this is the best I can expect for any DIY door.

-- Building my own seals per Rod and others would save money but require more accuracy and take more time. I like the way the Zero seals are built into the stop itself and can be adjusted with a series of screws running around the door perimeter.
Attached Thumbnails
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-zero_full_line_catalog_112255_110.png  
Old 8th October 2019
So my first shock came when pricing this stuff out. I knew it would be expensive but those Z950 hinges! They are about $200 a piece! I did a bit of searching and got lucky. Found some hinges on eBay for $75 each. But instead of the Z950, they were Z9500, which are the ultra heavy duty hinges. They are rated at 900lbs each, which is waaaay overkill. But at that price, I wasn't going to complain. I picked up 8. Four for each door. These things are massive, although they are the same size as the Z950. I'm not sure what would make them rate higher, possibly the size of the pin.

Sorry I didn't take more pics. Here's a shot of the door, jamb and hinges being fitted together:
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2494.jpg

Some things to note:

-- I back cut those grooves into the jamb, which is supposed to help avoid warping over time. I also sealed it with primer. This door would look great stained but it really would look out of place with the rest of the garage. I'll do something nicer for the inner door.

-- I learned it's good to bevel a tight fitting door, especially when there are lift hinges. It allows more room for the door to open and close without binding. You're supposed to take about 3 degrees off the inside edge. Because I rigged up my non beveling planer, it ended up being more like 5 degrees. Which is still workable, but I will have to make sure the seals really cover that gap. So I'll need a better planer for the other door.

-- I used a Porter router jig. It didn't fit these hinges perfectly so I ended up modifying the jig for a tighter fit. I'll have to do a post on tools at some point. So far, about 1/3 of my spend has been on tools to help make my job easier.

-- The hinges were tricky to line up with the jamb. This is because they are cam lift hinges, so when you open them, they change position. They are only perfectly aligned when closed.

-- I got some "precision" shims on Amazon. They come in exact thicknesses, which really helps when you need to add 1/8" or 1/16" here and there. It also helped maintain the various clearances when fitting things together.

Here's another angle with the jamb flipped up over the door:
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2495.jpg
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Last edited by thechrisl; 8th October 2019 at 08:34 PM..
Old 8th October 2019
All hinges fitted. You can see where some of the pockets are a little too big here. I will fill those gaps in. Once everything is put together I plan to take it all apart and caulk all the joints to avoid any tiny air gaps.
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2496.jpg

Getting the holes perfectly centered was a real challenge. I ended up getting some better puches for this and, finally, a hollow punch set that I didn't know existed. These things are essential!

The little stands I made were very helpful too. They let you stand the door up on edge. I just took a couple pieces of 3/4 MDF and cut a channel to fit the door, then lined with some carpet scraps to protect it.

I attached the hinge side of the jamb to the frame with GRK screws and did a test hang. So far so good. It opens and closes, lol. Plenty of room for the threshold at the bottom. I nailed in a temporary stop. It would be pretty easy to destroy the jamb by over-closing the door at this point.
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2497.jpg

Regarding the thick hinges and 1" jambs (also back cut), I had concerns about how well they would hold the door, but so far there haven't been any protests. The hinge screws go well into the frame, which helps. I'm definitely going to use something like 5/4 (actual size!) oak for the inner door hinge jam.

After (very!) carefully cutting the top and side jamb to fit, I assembled the jamb by running screws through the top. It just sits on the floor, where I will caulk before setting the threshold down. Then shimmed the jam to maintain the clearance around the door, which was about 1/8" (thanks again precision shims). I guess you could call it hung!
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2501.jpg
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Old 8th October 2019
Here's a detail of the framing:
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2505.jpg

Because this was an existing wall & it wasn't perfectly plumb, I had to shim the studs a bit. All these shims (especially the jamb) had to be cut out as much as possible so I could come back and caulk the seams. That was one of those extra details. Hopefully I will be able to get enough caulk in there to maintain isolation. Fortunately I have access to both sides of this wall.

Started stuffing the gaps with insulation and backer rod. Probably getting a little ahead of myself.
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2507.jpg

By next update, I hope to have the threshold and seals started, as well as a closer and some kind of locking mechanism.
Attached Thumbnails
A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2505.jpg   A Beautiful Place Out In The Country (ZSXI Recordings)-img_2507.jpg  
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