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Old 02-04-2007, 09:16 AM   #1
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


As I am still in the process of framing my basement, as I look up at the ceiling joists, I am wondering how would I check to see if they are level, so that when I do the drywall it will be relatively straight?

The ceiling joists are the original to the house, which was originally built in 1942. The whole house was gutted and a second floor added but the foundations were left the same and the ceiling joists in the basement are the original ones.

Just wondering if I have to do something to them or if there is a way of checking to see if they are pretty level. (I am not looking for them to be perfect, but something that I will be able to work with).


Thanks

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Old 02-04-2007, 11:43 AM   #2
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


Use a string line to see how even the bottoms are. That does not mean they are level, but it would tell you if the ceiling wold be flat without strapping.

Flat would mean all the bottoms are in the same plane. Level would mean the ceiling is flat and perpendicular to a vertical or plumb column - Horizontal.

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Old 02-04-2007, 11:51 AM   #3
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


As concretemasonry said:

Use what is called a 'dry line'. Attach one end running perpendicular to the joists at one end of your basement renovation area. Attach the other end ...on the opposite side of your starting point. Your string should sit flat against your starting joist and flat against your finishing joist and run TIGHTLY across all the joists in between.

If you want to get it perfectly level, you can use a string level...mounted on your string/line.

If you just want to see how far off each joist is in depth from the other joists, just use the dry line to examine that.
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Old 02-04-2007, 03:34 PM   #4
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


Thanks Atlantic and concretemasonry.

I will try the string line and hopefully they are relatively level.
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Old 02-05-2007, 08:54 AM   #5
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


To reiterate. You shouldn't care if they are level. You should care if they are flat, (in the same plane) and only then if you plan to drywall your ceiling. Some variation would be OK as well. I wouldn't worry about differences under 1/4" they will not show once you drywall.
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Old 02-05-2007, 08:57 AM   #6
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


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To reiterate. You shouldn't care if they are level. You should care if they are flat, (in the same plane) and only then if you plan to drywall your ceiling. Some variation would be OK as well. I wouldn't worry about differences under 1/4" they will not show once you drywall.
Brik's advice is right on....
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Old 02-05-2007, 11:01 AM   #7
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


Are the floors in the first floor above this area relatively level as you walk across them?
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:28 PM   #8
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


Yes, they are very level.

Would that translate to the joists in the basement also being level?
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Old 02-05-2007, 12:34 PM   #9
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


I did do the "string" measurement, and I noticed that at one point, (in the middle) it was off anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.

Would that really matter? It doesn't really matter to me, as I hope you will not be able to tell too much?
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Old 02-05-2007, 01:29 PM   #10
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


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I did do the "string" measurement, and I noticed that at one point, (in the middle) it was off anywhere from 1/4 inch to 1/2 inch.

Would that really matter? It doesn't really matter to me, as I hope you will not be able to tell too much?

As Brik mentioned earlier, 1/4" is not that significant of a variation. That would not really cause any drastic effects on anything and it is not something that you would notice with your naked eye after drywall and painting...
The 1/2" is more significant, in the sense that it could cause a greater bend in the sheetrock when attached (If that 1/2" is a direct jump in change as opposed to a gradual change) If it is a gradual change, you should be ok.

We learned along time ago that you 'can't straighten a crooked house'. In other words, unless you're specifically going in with the purpose to straighten out floor joists, ceilings and walls structurally...the best course of action is to just make things work and blend with what is there already.

We always attach strapping to the ceiling/floor joists and use this to make up for the any great variance in joist depths.
We just did this last week in a kitchen remodel of an older building...
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:05 PM   #11
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


It is a gradual change in the floor joists.
Starting with an 1/8" and then gradually to 1/2" at the center point.

I have another question, if I may.
The other smaller room that I soon will be framing, has a black pipe running all the way across the joists from one end of the room to the other.
It is approx l inch to l 1/2 inch.

Would I put pieces of wood "strapping" (I think that's what the name of it is?) across, nailing them to the floor joists?

What size pieces would I use?
Or is there something else that I can do to the pipe to avoid this?

Yummy, thanks you for all your patience and help!
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:36 PM   #12
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


yummy_Mummy - That's EXCTLY what I did. I just nailed up some 2x4s, on the bottom of the joists to allow for drywall to not interfere with the pipe. You could also use 2x2s, 2x3 or a ripped in half 2x4. I just used 2x4s because that's what I had.

FYI - That black pipe is a gas line, probably runs to your furnace or kitchen gas range I suspect.
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:39 PM   #13
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


An alternative would be to re-route the pipe some other area, like in a soffit or behind a wall. I would only consider doing this is headroom were an issue. It will cost more $$ and time plus you would need to get up to speed on fitting gas pipe.
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Old 02-05-2007, 04:43 PM   #14
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


...What Brik said....
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Old 02-05-2007, 05:12 PM   #15
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basement ceiling joists-how to know if they are level?


Yes, it is a gas line going to my gas range.

I will use 2X4s.
I really don't like 2X2s as they are usually pretty crooked.

Should I use full length 2X4s or would I be able to use smaller pieces put here and there for the drywall to adhere to?


thanks

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