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Old 03-31-2008, 08:35 AM   #1
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metal or wood soffit framing

Good morning,
I am a newbie to the site and a newbie to remodeling. I am currently in the process of finishing my basement, which is my first real project. My question is whether to frame out my soffits with 2 x 2's or should I use metal. I have 3, I beams to box in with the most difficult portion being the HVAC ductwork. This runs the entire length of the basement and consists of 2 large ducts side be side. The length of the run would be about 30 feet and the depth is about 8 ft. If I don't close in the HVAC system, the ceiling height would be about 7 ft (I am going tto install a drop ceiling). Advise please?

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Old 03-31-2008, 10:06 AM   #2
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NO 2x2's! This will never carry the wight of the drywall and could fall over time. Use either metal studs or 2x4's.The way we do it is to snap a chalk line from one end to the other about 4" out from the edge of the duct work. Find the widest part of the duct and make a mark @ 4" away from it under the joist. next measure from the wall that runs parallel to the duct to your mark. Make a mark at each end of the duct work measuring from the parallel wall toward the duct. The reason is because there is no guarantee that the duct work is straight, and also most ducts start out large then reduce down in size. Doing it this way ensures that your face edge of the soffit will be parallel with your wall. Snap a chalk line from end to end. Then repeat on other side. Now this snapped line becomes the face of the soffit. Now find the lowest point on your duct, measure up to the sub floor (Plywood between the joists) and add 3", this is the length of your "Legs". Next nail one "Leg" at each end letting the leg drop down below the joist 4" on each end. Make sure they are plumb. Now pull a string line from end to end and place a scrap piece of 2x under the 2 legs so the string is actually 1-1/2" lower than the 2 legs. Now you can insert the remaining legs to the chalk line, and measure from the top of your string line to the bottom of your leg and be sure you have 1-1/2" gap under it, nail with one nail, then make sure it is plumb, then nail with 2 more nails (Minimum). When you get done you should have all your legs nailed in and it should resemble a giant comb. Now on the other side, install one leg at one end making sure it is plumb with the leg on the other side of the soffit, then do the other end. Now fill in between the same way as the first side.. Take a measurement from outside to outside of 2 legs, this will be the length of your horizontal runs. Cut as many as required. Install by using either screws or bolts if you do not have a nail gun. The reason I say this is because you will knock everything out of wack when you start beating on it. Once you get done you should have a bunch of "U's". Place a long 2x2 on top of each "U" where the leg meets the horizontal on the left and right sides. Make sure the first one is plumb from left to right then nail it into the "U". repeat for all the "U's" this will stiffen them up. Have fun!

Another alternative is once you figure the lenth of your legs and horizontal run, you can make a "Jig" that the 3 pieces can be placed into that is square. Then nail them together. Make up all th pieces needed, the install one at each end making them plumb, level, and to the chalk line. Do the other end, then pull a string line from end to end, place a scrap 2x under each of the 4 legs so the string is 1-1/2" lower than the legs. Install each "U" keeping it to the chalk line and 1-1/2" higher than the string, plumb and level.

The second way may be easier for 1 person to do as they can not move as much.

Last edited by USP45; 03-31-2008 at 10:14 AM.
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