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Old 08-05-2010, 10:24 AM   #1
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


I have a problem I'm trying to solve here: finishing a daylight basement with several windows and plan to install a continuous shelf that would cover the window sill area as well as all the exterior walls. See the attached pic A to see what the windows look like. Pic B shows a basic outline of the shape of the window sill + shelf.

Now to my problem: I can't find any one continuous piece of wood that can be used for this. I'm trying to avoid seams. I intend to prime and paint the wood. I was planning on using 1 x 12 pine for this but someone just told me that pine is a soft wood that will get dented when people sit on it often. So basically, I need ideas on how to deal with this. I've thought about plywood but I can't get any plywood boards longer than 8 feet so in the process I would still have seams, one anyway. I welcome all ideas, thanks.
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Last edited by braverichard; 08-05-2010 at 10:36 AM. Reason: Changed picture
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Old 08-05-2010, 10:53 AM   #2
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Are you using this as a bench with built in shelves?

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Old 08-05-2010, 10:57 AM   #3
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


No, just basically the bench on there where you can put stuff like pictures, etc. Don't want to crowd up the open feel of the room with built in shelves, at least not yet.
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:03 AM   #4
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


I guess you could think of it as a window bench seat with no cushions however on two of the windows the bottom of the window is too high (5 feet) for anyone to ever really sit on it. The other two windows, one of which is pictured here, will definitely be sat on at one point or another because the bench would be just 31 inches above the floor.

Last edited by braverichard; 08-05-2010 at 11:29 AM. Reason: Mispelling
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:23 AM   #5
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Well what you can do is make the book shelves high or level with the window sill and put a bench in the center which would be lower so you can sit on it and give it a top so you can also use it for storage.
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:25 AM   #6
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


If it all paints you can have a seam in the window sill that’s invisible, just fill and sand the joint.
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Old 08-05-2010, 11:37 AM   #7
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


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Well what you can do is make the book shelves high or level with the window sill and put a bench in the center which would be lower so you can sit on it and give it a top so you can also use it for storage.
I don't understand... I'm not building book shelves. And I'm not making them different levels. I just need one bench there that is part of the window sill.

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If it all paints you can have a seam in the window sill thatís invisible, just fill and sand the joint.
Ok so if the seam can be filled and sanded so it is smooth and not visible, which wood should I use? No more than 1 inch thick please, thanks. Is the information I received on pine being a soft wood that will eventually be bent out of shape by people sitting on it accurate?
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Old 08-05-2010, 02:17 PM   #8
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Pine isn’t going to bend out of shape if properly secured to a solid base.

In Oregon I’d be using Hemlock for painted trim because it’s abundant here. In Kansas Pine is about all I can get without special order hassles. You could use ĺ” AC plywood and face the grain edge with a piece of trim.

It’s all going to paint so if you take the time to fill and sand all imperfections you can make anything look like one peice of wood.
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Old 08-05-2010, 03:29 PM   #9
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Be sure to add a 1" layer of EXP on the bare concrete top along with a sill sealer for a thermal and capillary break. Even p.t. wood will suck the moisture out of the concrete water reservoir wall: http://www.greenbuildingadvisor.com/...-building-code Cut your upper wall drywall 1/2" so it is not in contact with the concrete.

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Old 08-05-2010, 06:32 PM   #10
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Pine will work fine for your needs. Yes, it's soft, but unless you plan on banging beer bottles on it or keying it, it won't dent (and nobody should sit on it). Cut your joints on a 45 degree bevel (when looking out the window at the shelf level, the cut line will be on a 45 deg angle). It helps to hide the joint on the top side. Some people like to caulk the joint. I prefer to hit it with spackle and sand. Try to but some sort of profile on the outside edge for looks. If you have a router, then an ogee, cove, or bead & cove will work. If you don;t have one, then run it down a table saw to chamfer the top, bottom, or both.
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Old 08-05-2010, 07:35 PM   #11
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Thanks for the ideas guys, all great. To address specific ideas:

  • Capillary break on concrete is already there; concrete has been sealed with drylok and there will be pressure treated 2 x 4s on the concrete held by anchors. Then a sheet of 1/2" drywall on top of the 2 x 4s then the wood shelf.
  • I am gravitating towards using pine for the really high shelves and routing the edges for some fancy look and then going with BC plywood for the lower shelves because even though I will say "do not sit on it," everyone that has come to see the basement so far just naturally goes and sits on those shelves. Think about it: they are the perfect height and are right by windows so sitting there and looking out and enjoying the view (woods and a small stream) only comes naturally! So I know for a fact I can never stop people from sitting there, therefore I'll go with 3/4" BC plywood which can take the beating and put a trim piece at the edge to hide the layers in the wood.
  • I've long been concerned about the seam but from what you guys have said, it looks like I can cover it well. I just have to take my time and fill and sand till it is smooth before priming and painting.

Last edited by braverichard; 08-05-2010 at 07:37 PM. Reason: Grammar
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Old 08-27-2010, 05:50 PM   #12
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Thanks to all who chimed in. Decided to do 3/4" MDF as it is hard as hell. I understand water is its enemy however after it is primed and shot up with two coats of paint I'm sure it won't be an issue - unless of course you flood the whole freaking place in which case nothing will survive. With the edges routed, it looks really good. Painting stage now.
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Old 08-27-2010, 06:41 PM   #13
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


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Old 08-27-2010, 07:23 PM   #14
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


Looks like one piece of wood to me.

Good job.
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:59 PM   #15
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How to make basement window sills + wall shelves


looks good. did you prime/seal the back side?

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