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Thread: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

  1. #1

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    Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    I thought the combined knowledge of this forum might help with this Framing question that I can't seem to find a good answer for. I would like to partition out a darkroom space in my basement against an existing concrete wall (foundation wall). Basically like this:

    ---------------------
    |
    |
    |

    Where the "|" would be the new wooden framed walls and the "------" is the existing foundation wall. I've read a lot of "finishing basement" tutorials that seem geared to making a fancy finished space instead of a utility space. They recommend insulating the foundation wall with foam and building a conventional wall in front of that. However, I don't really want to do that because it seems a bit excessive in my case and this part of the foundation wall has had minor water leakage in the past (seems fixed now by redirecting the gutters).

    So the question is- is it possible to frame the two new walls above and have it end at the foundation wall? Would I need to build in a small gap so the wood frame doesn't touch the concrete? Or alternatively could I cut a small strip of XPS foam (only as wide as the finished width of the new wall) and glue that to the foundation wall so the new wood wall doesn't have to touch the concrete.

    Hopefully someone has some practical advice here,

    Thanks

  2. #2

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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    I would frame in front of the foundation wall after sealing it and providing a vapor barrier behind the new framing. Otherwise, if I am understanding the situation, the foundation wall would become an interior wall of your darkroom. Not an ideal situation.

  3. #3
    Roger Thoms's Avatar
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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    Yes you can terminate your wall at the concrete foundation wall. If you are framing with wood remember that any woo in contact with concrete needs to be pressure treated so this would apply to your bottom plate as well as the stud that’s against the foundation wall. An alternative would be to use metal flashing between stud and the concrete. Another option would be to use metal studs instead of wood.

    Roger

  4. #4
    Roger Thoms's Avatar
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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    A couple thoughts on the concrete wall. As Merg mentioned it may not be ideal for the darkroom. Dust can be an issue which could be solved by painting the concrete. Depending on you skill level and tools you have it may be harder to attach things to the concrete. I'm a carpenter and have the right tools so I actually see concrete as an advantage because as I can put anchors where ever I want. No need to locate studs or open up the wall and put in backing. The other consideration is temperature control. If you frame a wall in front the foundation wall it is easy to insulate. With the past water issues there is an advantage to leaving the wall open.

    Just some food for thought.

    Roger

  5. #5

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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    Quote Originally Posted by Roger Thoms View Post
    A couple thoughts on the concrete wall. As Merg mentioned it may not be ideal for the darkroom. Dust can be an issue which could be solved by painting the concrete. Depending on you skill level and tools you have it may be harder to attach things to the concrete. I'm a carpenter and have the right tools so I actually see concrete as an advantage because as I can put anchors where ever I want. No need to locate studs or open up the wall and put in backing. The other consideration is temperature control. If you frame a wall in front the foundation wall it is easy to insulate. With the past water issues there is an advantage to leaving the wall open.

    Just some food for thought.

    Roger
    Thanks Roger,

    This gives me something to think on. I do have a hammer drill and have put anchors in this wall before so I'm comfortable with that. I would paint the wall if I left it open. Also I'm guessing I don't have to worry about fireblocking issues if the only exterior wall in this new room ins masonry, if I'm reading the codes right on that at least.

  6. #6
    Gary Beasley's Avatar
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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    When I put a wall across the space for my darkroom I used construction adhesive to attach the 2x4s to the floor and concrete. Extra adhesive to till any gaps. The top and one side were screwed to existing framing so it has good support even without adhesive. If at some point the darkroom needs to go away the adhesive can be scraped off the concrete without leaving holes.

  7. #7
    jp's Avatar
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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    My first darkroom was in the corner of a basement as your describe. You could paint the concrete wall if you want. It doesn't need to be finished. It's actually nice to have concrete as it absorbs some body heat in an otherwise poorly ventilated darkroom. I'd find some light absorbing foam to put between the concrete and the other two wall's framing.

  8. #8
    Les
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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    I'd echo what Merg and Roger mentioned. In my case, I had to install a new wall (2x4's) in the front of concrete blocks + framing new rooms. I've installed 1" insulation between the new framing and the blocks. Furthermore, I sealed it with alum-foil insulation (forgot the name)....it's roughly about 3/8" thick + fiberglass insulation in the open cavities....all giving me R-21, which was required in my area. The structure seem to be sealed....nearly waterproofed, but THAT could cause variety of issues with mold etc....I mean just from living there.

    Ha, my next move was to make sure ALL windows within the space have a "slide", which would permit small amounts of air to enter the space and to be able to recirculate - those were built into the windows. Making sure, that when someone leaves the space for 3 months, it will not turn to a penicillin lab with mold everywhere. Leaving windows open slightly can also help, but the 'slide' would do this independently.

    As an additional measure, due to one wall could not have windows and humidity could build up some, I'd run a dehumidifier couple times/week. Overall, I had several sets of tenants living there (couples) and I never had any complains over 7-8yrs.

    Although I did not do the framing myself, I was able to observe all the operations. Indeed, the lower pieces were all pressure treated....attached to the slab. Prior to the installation of new floor, my framer installed 2x4's (pressure treated) lying flat and OSB attached to that - creating the base for the floor.

    Good luck.
    Les

  9. #9
    Drew Wiley
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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    Typically an adhesive barrier strip, coming on a roll, like that used for window installations, would be recommended to isolate wood members from moisture or anything potentially corrosive leaching out of the concrete, which itself should be appropriately sealed first (not with anything containing silicone or wax, which are a bond breakers!).
    Pressure treated wood can also be used in addition to what I mentioned above. Just be aware that lots of pressure treated stock is garden use and not structurally rated. Most of the Cheapo Depot type home centers don't carry the right kind, or even know what it is. And avoid older types containing arsenic (CCA - chromium copper arsenate). All pressure treated material should be handled with gloves and cut wearing a dust mask, and then finally covered in your final workspace. Dust from that nasty stuff gets around later too.
    Some of my walls were made removable with tapcon-style concrete screws, should the space ever need to be modified later. And I did my own remodel officially, under permit and inspection, though that can sometimes be a roll of the dice with respect to whether you get an honest inspector or one holding up things for sake of a bribe. I was lucky and got a young inspector wanting to make his own darkroom! But one thing inspections do, if legit, involves making sure things are properly built to resist rot and failure down the line. So it's a good idea to study relevant local building codes regardless, before undertaking any project involving new walls.
    Now as per OSB for flooring etc. It's improved over the years, but what hasn't change is the formula OSB + H2O = Corn Flakes. It's designed to be water-resistant only for the anticipated construction period of six week or so, not for potential darkroom puddles or long-term moisture risk. If you must use OSB due to budget limitations, put a poly film barrier between it and your actual flooring material above, as well as between it and any concrete below if that's near ground level or below.

  10. #10

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    Re: Framing a darkroom against concrete wall

    I would frame in front of the concrete wall and insulate all walls with bat insulation. I'd put a poly barrier in front of the concrete foundation wall. If you don't wish to do that, then I'd bolt a 2x4 to the concrete wall using anchors and frame the two walls from there. I'd then paint the concrete wall with a waterproofing "paint". Just my 2's worth.

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