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Old 12-23-2009, 09:47 AM   #1
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


My basement is ICF walls that I'm attempting to refinish over the coming months. I started with a small closet around my electrical box and I did the method where I put the header and footer into place then measured the studs, cut them, then toe nailed them in. Turns out I'm horrible at toe nailing. The ICF is not very straight on this wall, the others are fine and I will drywall right on them, but for this wall I decided to build the wall and then raise it into place.

So I marked the header and footer then measured each stud, assembled the wall as two 10' pieces and raised them into place. Each fit with a little banging with my test fit. I then put down some Sill Seal and put them back up. They were TIGHT. Once they were in I could move then by smacking it once with a hammer on the back or front to move into place but still very tight.

I guess I'm just worried it's too tight and will hold the load of the beams above it even though that's not what I want. Am I right to worry about this? The studs aren't bowed out...I took a 4' level against each one and only one was slightly bowed (which I think was like that before hand and I didn't notice when building the wall). Without the sill seal it seemed ok but adding that extra 1/16 - 1/8" sill seal really tightened it up. Or is this exactly how it's supposed to be? This is my first real framing job...just want to make sure I'm doing it right before I do the other walls (this was the largest wall since as I said I will just put drywall on the ICF on the other straighter walls).

I included a picture although it probably doesn't matter. (Side note...do I need fire stops on a exterior wall against ICF? I'm putting them in (as you can see on the first couple studs) more for bracing as the wall is 8' 3" from header to footer and the studs move side to side a bit but figured I'd ask)

-Allan
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:13 AM   #2
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


First, make sure the bottom plate is pressure treated lumber for moisture issues. I don't really think the sill seal is necessary but it isn't going to hurt anything either.

As far is the wall being tight, I would not worry too much about it. If you can move it with a tap of your regular framing hammer I believe it is fine. Now, if you cannot move it without a good blast from a sledgehammer then we would have a different issue. Also, this looks like it is against the outside wall of your foundation? I highly doubt it is taking hardly any of the load off of the foundation.

As for the fire blocking, not really necessary. You can add those in order to keep your studs nice and straight which makes hanging the board a little easier. You have most done so you might as well just add the rest, a little overkill but again won't hurt anything.

Good luck.

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Old 12-23-2009, 10:17 AM   #3
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


What Ricky said.
In addition, when you are building non-load bearing walls in a basement, build them 1/4"-1/2" short. After raising them into place, insert shims in between top plate and joist, then nail or screw. No sense beating yourself silly.
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Old 12-23-2009, 10:39 AM   #4
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


Thanks guys. I didn't use treated wood because the ICF is supposed to be a vapor barrier and in the three years I've been here I have had three leaks (one from a shower drain, one from a wall I tracked back to them not caulking the furnace intake/exhaust (built 10 years ago and never caulked.....), and the last being they built a patio the summer before I bought it which "dammed" the water in the back of the house the following spring and it went "over" the poured foundation...all three issues I have fixed). The basement is very dry, not even damp other then some condensation on two windows down here in the winter (crappy windows that weren't well sealed).

Yes I can move it if I smack it with my hammer. I also used the claw to "pry" it away from the ICF wall when I was trying to level it and that went pretty easily so I guess I won't worry. Hardest part is the ICF isn't perfectly straight on this front wall (the others thankfully are better) so it's hard to find a point to measure off of. I finally broke out my Black n Decker tape measure that has a laser on it and pointed it across the floor 1/4" in front of my footer then lined up the footer with the laser line. Screwed the footer into the floor then leveled the wall moving the top in and out. Seems ok.

I'll build the next one about 3/8" short (well as close as I can to that) then add the sill seal which should bring me to 1/4" spacers and should work out better then what I went through with this wall.

Thanks for the quick replies.
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Old 12-23-2009, 03:51 PM   #5
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


Pressure treated bottom plate is required per code on concrete slab. Sill sealer is a good idea as a capillary (water) and thermal break.

Be aware when building an electrical panel surround that front working clearance of 30" wide by 36" deep is required per code. Max. panel setback in drywall = 1/4", and in wood wall = 0"

Fire-stop is required in your wall at the ceiling (horizontal), and the studs (vertical),every 10'. Use approved fire-stop material: How to fireblock framing

If your mechanical-hiding soffit touches the walls, blocking or other is required at the new ceiling/wall line.


Tape some plastic (2x2') on the floor, sealing the edges well. A few days later, check for condensation as concrete appears dry with air moving over it. The test is only good for that time of year and that small area tested, but it helps.


Isn't that small bench great? I had trouble moving mine one handed so I taped some 1" foam board under each side edge in the middle. Now with a thumb over the top and fingers under, against the filler, it's way easier to move!

Be safe, Gary
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Old 12-23-2009, 09:15 PM   #6
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


The panel has 30" from the back wall to the doorway and 38" from the front door of the panel back (I read that in my NEC2005 book and made sure to make room for it). I debated the pressure treated but I'm not too worried about it. The way I figure if I could put drywall directly on the walls down to the floors then what's the point of pressure treated for this basement. Did the plastic test in summer and winter....no water. In fact it's so dry that I didn't know my upstairs bathroom shower was leaking because I take showers at night and it would be completely dry by morning. I only noticed when I moved a plastic storage container under it and a few weeks later I notice a water ring on the cover. Once I saw that I looked for it immediately after a shower.

And the bench is great. I bought it on Black Friday at Lowes for $22 thinking I may use it. Well I've been up and down on that thing 100 - 120 times in the last three days.....my legs are killing me from getting on and off it but it would be a lot worse if I had to use a step stool or a ladder.

Got one drain hiding mini wall done and a box around one of the support columns. So much easier making it slightly short then shimming it and nailing it to the ceiling.
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Old 12-24-2009, 08:53 AM   #7
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


The fire stop stuff is bothering me....I might have to post something to that other thread to make sure I know what I'm doing.

Last edited by vseven; 01-06-2010 at 10:09 PM.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:13 PM   #8
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


Added fire block as well as I could per the linked thread....filled the gaps with fire rated foam. It's a little messy but its sealed good.

Also built another wall, did it in two 8' sections and built both about 1/2" short. So much easier.
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Old 01-06-2010, 10:22 PM   #9
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


Code for me is that non-treated wood should not make direct contact with concrete.
Sill gasket is fine where I am located, although pressure treated bottom plate would be recommended.
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Old 01-07-2010, 02:53 PM   #10
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


Looking good! While you have that messy foam out: http://www.rd.com/57548/article57548.html

Be safe, Gary
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:58 PM   #11
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


Your killin me Gary....every time I think I'm done you post more stuff for me....

I do have a question....there is a outside water pipe that comes down from the ceiling about 4 feet then out the front of the wall. They put a 1 1/2" PVC pipe in the poured ICF wall and ran the water line through it. They then sealed the outside with silicone caulk and filled the pipe with insulation (The pipe is just hidden by one of the studs in the first picture). The shutoff for this pipe is above my fire blocking so I can still get to it after the wall is sealed up. The question I guess I have is do I now need to worry about this pipe freezing? In other words will this concealed space that I'm fully sealing up now get really cold? The walls are not cold to the touch currently and it's 12*F outside....I'm really happy with the ICF but now I'm a bit worried about this pipe.

(and regarding this: "If your mechanical-hiding soffit touches the walls, blocking or other is required at the new ceiling/wall line." I might have to post another picture or two.)

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Old 01-07-2010, 06:59 PM   #12
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


be sure to allow for an access to the shut-off.
place some batt insulation in the cavity and it should be good where you are located.
Did you add insullation to the rim joists? a bunch of heat gets out of the building at that location. add some insulation there. make sure the top of the ICF's are covered at least. more is better. if it comes inside another half foot would be good.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:22 PM   #13
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


It looks like there is a 2 x 10 as a sill plate laid on top of the ICF with sill seal under it then the joists are on those. There is also insulation already in all the cavities along the rim joists. It's jsut bat insulation stuffed up there, not as nice as the link GBR_in_WA posted but it's something.

And yeah, most of the basement will be drop ceiling and I will have access to the shutoff. Now I have to figure out getting around the beams and ducts before I start dry walling.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:29 PM   #14
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


I've had a lot of luck using MDF sheets goods for paint grade box-outs and drops.
You might have a different name for it. Medium Density Fibreboard.
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Old 01-07-2010, 08:56 PM   #15
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How tight is too tight for a new basement wall?


Yeah, I think I'm going to frame most of it with 2x2's and the rest with 2x4's and dry wall the soffits. Think it will look best that way with a drop ceiling if I can figure out how to do it right.

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