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Remove drywall or not before building climbing wall
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By Tavis Ricksecker
From Bishop, ca
May 2, 2013
Church of the Lost and Found, Left. Summer 2013
Hi guys,

I planning to mount a wall (actually several) in an outbuilding on my property. It is currently finished, IE - carpet, drywall, etc. Just one big room 36x24', the ceiling is 12' in the center and 8' on the sides. I plan to make walls at various angles - 15, 30, 45, 60, roof sort of setup.

So my question. Should I demo the drywall and rip out the insulation and carpet and everything, or should I leave the drywall up and build the walls with the drywall in place?

Advantages I can see of removing the drywall - easier to construct the wall onto the exposed studs.

Advantages of leaving the drywall in place - one less step in the process, better insulation for heat and cold.

If you were in my shoes, what would you do?

Thanks for any thoughts

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By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
May 2, 2013
Courtright Reservoir, September 2013
Remove drywall for sure

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By jnowis
From Laramie, Wyoming
May 2, 2013
Framing is (relatively) cheap, and your space is huge. I'd leave the drywall in place, come in from the existing walls about two feet (maybe just 18 inches?), and build a mostly free standing structure inside the existing space. That would give you access to the back of the wall to replace popped out t-nuts, and keep your insulation. You probably would add some bracing to the existing walls, but converting back to original would be patching screw holes, not replacing all of the drywall.

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
May 2, 2013
Day Lily.
You've already noted reasons to both leave and demolish. If you're willing I think the last post was a good/balanced idea. Freestanding(ish) walls are great for multiple reasons (some suggested already) but they're superior for one situation over fixed walls: resale. Unless you're POSITIVE you'll never leave your place id freestand the walls so you maximize your investment/return (hopefully) and also it'll save you time (no demo which takes time + getting rid of the shit) and you noted the heating/cooling benefit.

+1 for freestanding.

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By Rick Mix
From Nederland, Colorado
May 2, 2013
Free-standing or not, there's no way I'd do any demo work. Completely unnecessary and a really big mess.
You can locate wall studs and ceiling joists behind the gypsum board easily enough should you want to make an attachment.
Have fun.

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By Tavis Ricksecker
From Bishop, ca
May 2, 2013
Church of the Lost and Found, Left. Summer 2013
Thanks for the input guys.

Freestanding is not something that I am considering, more like building a complex of several walls coming together into a cave/roof sort of thing. Pretty positive that I am not selling the place any time remotely soon, plan to live there at least 10 years and quite possibly forever.

Adam, what is the compelling reason to remove the drywall? Does it really make it that much easier/more bomber?

Can the walls still be super solid/bomber if the drywall is there, or will they always be a bit more creaky?

Just trying to get an idea of what to expect as I have no experience in this yet.

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By flynn
May 2, 2013
Since you'll be anchoring to the studs, not the drywall, it'll still be rock solid if you leave the drywall up. Whether you take the stuff down or not won't affect your access to the T-nuts; that's a completely separate issue and will get solved as you design the walls.

I'd skip the demo. While breaking things is often fun, the clean-up is a total buzz-kill. Plus the idea of insulation is appealing.

Don't know whether it would add to the confusion or actually tell you something, but you might contact folks who build walls for a living. I guarantee they've run into this before!

Oh, one thought on the carpet: how nicely is that going to play with sawdust now (tarp?) and chalk later?

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By jnowis
From Laramie, Wyoming
May 2, 2013
Either way, you are building the majority of the wall free standing (you have to build the angled wall new either way, unless you want to use the existing vertical wall, which will get boring quick). The only difference is how easy the bracing connects to the walls. In my experience (I've built 5 climbing walls at different locations, although nothing that comes close to filling a 24'x36' space), you don't need a huge amount of bracing.

Most of the forces generated are down, with some side to side forces while moving. The side to side force is braced by the plywood structure, the down is mostly carried by the structure of the wall. You can build a perfectly sound wall by just connecting the toe board of the climbing wall to the floor really well. That being said, I would still brace the wall to the existing structure every 4' horizontally half way up the wall. I'd also recommend running a brace on the floor to connect the toe board of the wall to the existing structure if you off-set it from the wall.

Consider building with 2x6's, or even 2x8's on walls over 45 degrees. But really, most people way overbuild their climbing walls. This is not a gym with multiple people climbing, maybe 5 at a time?

I know that I like the sections that I can get behind to replace t-nuts. The sections that are hard to access never get t-nuts replaced, and it always happens at a spot you really want a hold.

-Justin

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By Tavis Ricksecker
From Bishop, ca
May 2, 2013
Church of the Lost and Found, Left. Summer 2013
Thanks man,

Overhangs of course, planning on 15/30/45/60/roof or so.

Will take the advice on the 2x6's. It's sounding like it will be better for me to leave the majority of the drywall, i really do want the insulation.

In this case, when attaching the framing for the panels to the existing walls, should attach straight through the drywall into the wall studs or should I remove small sections of the drywall so as to have wood on wood instead of drywall in between?

Also, how do you brace on way steep, IE in one section I'd like to make a 60 degree overhang 8' high with perhaps a 1-2' kicker. I take it I should brace it to the ceiling? I was thinking 2x6's coming straight down from a sleeper mounted to the rafters, maybe half way out the overhang or so.

jnowis wrote:
Either way, you are building the majority of the wall free standing (you have to build the angled wall new either way, unless you want to use the existing vertical wall, which will get boring quick). The only difference is how easy the bracing connects to the walls. In my experience (I've built 5 climbing walls at different locations, although nothing that comes close to filling a 24'x36' space), you don't need a huge amount of bracing. Most of the forces generated are down, with some side to side forces while moving. The side to side force is braced by the plywood structure, the down is mostly carried by the structure of the wall. You can build a perfectly sound wall by just connecting the toe board of the climbing wall to the floor really well. That being said, I would still brace the wall to the existing structure every 4' horizontally half way up the wall. I'd also recommend running a brace on the floor to connect the toe board of the wall to the existing structure if you off-set it from the wall. Consider building with 2x6's, or even 2x8's on walls over 45 degrees. But really, most people way overbuild their climbing walls. This is not a gym with multiple people climbing, maybe 5 at a time? I know that I like the sections that I can get behind to replace t-nuts. The sections that are hard to access never get t-nuts replaced, and it always happens at a spot you really want a hold. -Justin

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By The Stoned Master
Administrator
From Pennsylvania
May 2, 2013
Day Lily.
Metolius has a fine, simple phamplet/how to on building walls. Sounds like some visuals (that the booklet) would help. Check it out on their site.

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By Tavis Ricksecker
From Bishop, ca
May 2, 2013
Church of the Lost and Found, Left. Summer 2013
Yeah, I've read it. Doesn't explain well how to brace the steeper walls. These questions are things which are not answered by reading the pamphlet.

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By jnowis
From Laramie, Wyoming
May 2, 2013
What length of span are you going to build? 24 feet is a really long span, and I might just keep my mouth shut until someone with significant building experience steps up with advice. I'm an engineer, civil, but work on the environmental side, not construction.

If you are going less than the 24', I'd reinforce the truss/joist (ceiling), and build a vertical wall to help support it. How much? I think the rule of thumb is 1 inch for every foot for a joist thickness, so a 10 foot span requires a 10 inch floor joist. Don't quote me though, I'm pulling off "This Old House" episodes.

For connecting through the drywall, find studs/joist, then mount a 2x4 or 2x6 to the wall/ceiling across the studs/joist, and connect to that. Use 3 inch screws, and enough, and you'll be golden. This will just leave screw holes when you remove the wall in 10, 20, or 50 years.

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By Adam Stackhouse
Administrator
May 2, 2013
Courtright Reservoir, September 2013
Tavis, it was something that I did in both of the garages that I've built a small woody on. Sans the drywall, it was just easier to bolt/screw etc the framing from . And since it would be covered by the wall itself, I wasn't gaining or missing anything aesthetically. The mess wasn't too bad in the scope of things.

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By Greg Stokes
From Smithers, BC CANADA
May 2, 2013
FA of "Slip-and-Slide" 5.10c/d Hagwilget...
Tavis, I emailed you back

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By jhn payne
May 2, 2013
"Ragin Cajun" 5.12c Jackson Falls, So Il...
I built two walls of different angles in a garage lined with drywall. I had a ledger board at the bottom of the wall and a corresponding one on the ceiling, 2x6 i believe, then used deck hangers at the bottom ledger board and cut my upright studs to the necessary angle and screwed them together. Studs were 16" ctr. When I left that residence, I removed the drywall screws and there was little notice there had ever been a climbing wall there. I also had a ledger running at half height to which I had horizontal bracing running to the studs, makes a great space to store your pads.

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By Tavis Ricksecker
From Bishop, ca
May 2, 2013
Church of the Lost and Found, Left. Summer 2013
Thanks again guys.

Yeah, J, the span will be 12' on the 60 degree wall. Also 12' span on the 45 degree wall, those are the two I am most concerned about. The more vertical walls I think it will be a lot easier to brace.

Seems that opinions are split on the drywall. I guess I lean towards leaving it, i think it will be less work than dealing with removing it.

I appreciate all the advice.

-Tavis

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By Rock Nuttool
May 2, 2013
Rock Nuttool
Travis, I've been a builder for 20+ years. My thoughts:
I would definitely leave all the drywall. Where you are laminating plywood on the face of an ex'g wall, simply make sure you locate studs and use long enough screws (2 1/2" should suffice.) Where you are adding framing to alter the angle of the wall, attach top/bottom plates and stiffbacks to the face of the wall or ceiling using 3 1/2" deck screws. Don't use ordinary drywall screws for framing, they snap. A "stiffback" is a lateral brace on the face of the wall to which you would attach kickers on your overhanging walls. I would attach kickers to the stiffback using joist hangers, and fasten kickers to the new studs using "gussets" of 1/2" plywood (think of the metal plates on trusses). On an overhang of say 60 degrees, kickers on 4' centers would be more than adequate and you could use 2x4s.

Also, be aware of what mechanicals you're burying, i.e. outlets, HVAC vents, etc. You made need to provide access to these some way.

Hope this helps! Good luck.

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By Zirkel
From Bishop, CA
May 2, 2013
Owens Gorge.  Mt Tom in background.
I would gather a fine selection of beers from Manor Market and invite your co-workers over for a heady nite of crankin' and quaffin' when it's finished!

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By LeeAB
Administrator
From ABQ, NM
May 3, 2013
Once we landed we headed to Font to find a place t...
I don't understand why you need to have the drywall to have insulation. Unless it is blown in, it should be baffles stuffed between the studs and would not need drywall to hold it in place. While drywall itself may provide some insulating properties it would be minimal.

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By Rob Gordon
From Hollywood, CA
May 3, 2013
Tough Mantle Problem.  Haven't sent yet...
My buddies and I built one in highschool and left the drywall. It was easy enough, we just cut out slots for the 2x12s in the wall and in the ceiling to bolt to the studs. Ceiling was easier because we could get up there on the other side. But I don't remember it being a problem for the regular wall.

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By Optimistic
From New Paltz
May 3, 2013
+ 1 on using structural screws instead of drywall screws.

Also use star drive screws rather than phillips. You'll be really glad you did.

Dewalt (and others, I'm sure) makes a little hex bit attachment for your screw gun that holds screws while you drive them. Helps a lot, especially on an overhanging wall on a ladder.

Using 3/4" plywood is nice.

Having some drywall between your bracing and existing stud shouldn't matter if use a good long screw and get it tight to drywall. Most of the force is down and away from the wall anyway, not towards it.

Stud finder would be handy here. Using a long level oriented vertically is a quick way to mark out the entire stud once you locate it at one spot.

Have fun!

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By Old and Busted
From Centennial, CO
May 3, 2013
Stabby
LeeAB wrote:
I don't understand why you need to have the drywall to have insulation. Unless it is blown in, it should be baffles stuffed between the studs and would not need drywall to hold it in place. While drywall itself may provide some insulating properties it would be minimal.

The membrane of the sheetrock completes the encapsulation of the dead air space that promotes the heat retention. Its a system.

My .02: leave it up. Cheesy studfinders aren't worth the $; what you do to locate studs is use a drill. DO THIS LOWER THAN ANY E OUTLETS!! Find an outlet as they used a stud to mount it, see if you can tell what side of it the stud is on by the nail slot inside the box. If not, run a drill bit on either side, you either feel it hit a stud or not. Then you can measure 16" centers, and confirm the stud with the drill. Use a 4' level to mark the line up the wall.

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By Optimistic
From New Paltz
May 3, 2013
Mike Lane wrote:
The membrane of the sheetrock completes the encapsulation of the dead air space that promotes the heat retention. Its a system. My .02: leave it up. Cheesy studfinders aren't worth the $; what you do to locate studs is use a drill. DO THIS LOWER THAN ANY E OUTLETS!! Find an outlet as they used a stud to mount it, see if you can tell what side of it the stud is on by the nail slot inside the box. If not, run a drill bit on either side, you either feel it hit a stud or not. Then you can measure 16" centers, and confirm the stud with the drill. Use a 4' level to mark the line up the wall.


That's funny, that's exactly what I do at the very frequent times that I can't get my stud finder to work, but I didn't mention it because I thought it was just my own lame noob workaround! It does make little holes in the drywall, but it is highly effective (unless you accidentally find a "stud" that is actually a drywall nailer or piece of blocking).

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By Kevin Stricker
From Evergreen, CO
May 13, 2013
Leave everything. Drywall has many advantages both for insulative qualities(what Mike said) and more importantly fire safety. A lot of insulation is not rated for open use as the facing is combustible. You will curse your decision to demo if you ever do sell, not to mention it does nothing to improve your wall.

Read the Metolius booklet a few more times. You could give that booklet to a builder with no wall experience and they could build a great wall for you.

Take the time to plan the wall both on paper and with string lines outlining all the panels. Transitions are the part of wall building that separates ok walls from great ones.

Definitely leave the carpet, just cover with plastic carpet protector and plywood until the framing is done. In my experience it is the atmosphere in a home wall, both the temps and the lighting that determine how usable the space ends up.

As for stud finders, buy a rare earth magnet stud finder. They are cheap and really work.

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