Yet Another Chimney Rebuild (Pics)

Discussion in 'Home Cinema Building DIY' started by Eye of Harmony, Aug 17, 2012.

  1. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    After a very cold winter last year, we decided we needed to seriously increase the amount of insulation in our roof. We'd already tripled it in most of the house, but three rooms have vaulted ceilings which means no loft access. The only way to add more insulation is to rip down the ceilings and start again. As they're between 3m and 5m high that's not much fun. But hey ho, it has to be done.

    So as we approach the lounge, I think to myself - while the ceiling is down I could take the opportunity to add some cable for the surround sound speakers for my poor little all in one cheapo home cinema system. This quickly escalates to swapping out the all-in-one package speakers for some nicer in-ceiling speakers. But of course, if the rear speakers are bigger, it makes sense to change the front speakers as well :)

    This ultimately led to the idea of demolishing the chimney and creating a nice built in "media centre" with recessed telly, in wall speakers, and niches for AV equipment etc. But why stop there? The room is ideally configured to add a projector and electric screen, so why not put in place cabling for these too?

    Here's the story so far in pics (sorry, this is the boring stuff first, breaking the room apart!)

    Here's the room to start with, before chaos ensues:
    [​IMG]

    The chimney will go and that wall will be rebuilt. Eventually an electric screen will be installed behind the beam nearest the chimney. A projector can then be installed either on the middle beam (3m away from the screen) or the back beam (6m away). Not sure which yet, depends on projectors and screens, neither of which I can afford immediately.

    Here's what I have in mind for the AV centre to replace the chimney (not to scale):

    [​IMG]

    Not sure if the centre speaker will be above or below the TV, it depends on the height the telly ends up at.

    First day's work, get rid of the existing ceiling, and the chimney:

    [​IMG]

    The wooden beam on the top weighs 150kg. It wasn't easy removing it on my own! Rather than break up the base of the old chimney, it will be extended to the left and the AV equipment niches will be built into it:

    [​IMG]

    Next, a new pellet burner is installed in the room that backs onto this one, replacing the ageing wood burner from the chimney. It blows hot air out through the two flexible tubes. Those will go in the recess under the TV, well insulated of course:

    [​IMG]

    Now to start putting in the insulation and the suspended ceiling system. Here's about a third of the insulation that has to go in:

    [​IMG]

    The first layer in, along with the suspended ceiling brackets:

    [​IMG]

    Now to run the cabling before putting in the next two layers:

    [​IMG]

    HDMI, coax, cat 5e, and power. Oh, and lots of 2.5mm2 speaker cable of course, including two extra runs to accommodate 7.1 rear speakers if I decide to add them later. Once all this is in I will have the choice of being able to mount a projector under either of the beams. Here are the speakers:

    [​IMG]

    Polk RCis for rears, SC85s for fronts, and an Apart for the middle (please don't laugh, my budget, and knowledge of AV, are severely limited!)

    Still need a subwoofer. I'm thinking of a BK Gemini II as that's what seems to be well respected here (as far as my tiny budget goes).

    TBC...
     
  2. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Cables run:

    [​IMG]

    And labelled!

    [​IMG]

    Now to install two more layers of insulation. Putting this glass wool stuff in is about the worst job in the world. Even more horrible when it's 35 degrees outside - yuck :(

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    Then a vapour barrier:

    [​IMG]

    Then plasterboard (with cutouts for speakers tested for size before they go up!)

    [​IMG]

    Now to get my trowel out and start plastering.

    [​IMG]

    The ceiling is about 80% plastered so far. It's now nearly 40 degrees outside so plastering is only possible for about an hour at 7am, slowing down progress. Once it's done, I can start rebuilding the front wall and the media centre. That's where it should start to get interesting :)
     
  3. benjani

    benjani
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    Superb write up!

    very interesting build this, I look forwards to further updates.
     
  4. wseed

    wseed
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    Looks good, any reason for going with the fibre insulation over a solid product like Kingspan/Celotex? I've just insulated a similar pitched roof and building regs here insisted on the closed cell boards. I think both probably have pro's and cons as to ease/comfort of fitting.

    Anyhow good look with the project.
     
  5. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Yeah, I would have loved to use Celotex or similar, but I'm in France and there's just nothing quite the same here (and no building regs or inspectors either!)

    Aside from that, for the equivalent R value the Celotex-type products work out a bit more than double the cost of the glass wool (at regular prices, importing it would be even more expensive). The stuff I used isn't too bad, it unrolls into semi-rigid panels, it's not like that really awful floppy stuff you roll out into a loft. Still no fun to put in though, and it's life span is probably shorter than the solid products.

    Nothing to update yet. I managed a bit more plastering at 7am yesterday before it got too hot. Hoping to start the wall-build later this week, temperature allowing. In the mean time I'm working on a more detailed plan, with measurements and everything :)
     
  6. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    So I've been amusing myself with Sketchup while it's too hot to plaster, and I've got a much better idea of how this thing will look when done. No, scratch that. I've got a better idea of how I want it to look! I started with this:

    [​IMG]

    This is based on proper measurements of the room, the old chimney structure, and all the equipment. The problem is it puts the tv quite high, much higher than we're used to having it. The bottom of the TV is at 90cm, and being an older style Panasonic with a big bezel that means the bottom of the image is nearer 1m from the ground.

    We stuck the telly on a stack of blocks last night to try it out at that height, and it's ok, but we'd both prefer it a little lower. That led to thinking about moving the centre speaker from directly under the tv to the recess below, like this:

    [​IMG]

    This provides a few advantages. It means we can move the tv down at least 10cm, and it leaves more space around it for a bigger stronger frame to hold up the cantilever floating wall. It also means we can reduce the height of the floating wall, making the whole thing a bit less massive. Finally as a bonus, it puts the L/R speakers closer to ear level. My only concern is will having the centre speaker in the recess affect the sound negatively? The recess will be 18cm deep.

    This evening I'm going to hook up the speakers temporarily again, and stick the centre inside the old TV cabinet and recess it 18cm, then watch a movie and see what it sounds like. All in the interest of research, of course.

    I'm still pondering my amp or sub first question. Decisions decisions...
     
  7. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Right, so the centre speaker is absolutely fine when recessed. Tested it out last night and it sounded great, and that's without setting up the amp.

    [​IMG]

    Decision also made on the receiver front, I will get the receiver before the sub. It seems that running separate speakers from an all-in-one isn't ideal, especially when the all-in-one is supposed to be running 3ohm rated speakers!

    All I have to do now is decide between the Onkyo TX-NR515 and the Yamaha RX-V673. The Yamaha is tempting me with its Airplay, the Onkyo with it's dual HDMI outs, useful for when the projector is added. But the Onkyo sounds like it runs hot, and there are lots of reports of issues about loss of picture when waking from standby. I don't need the extra inputs, so the Yamaha is leading the race. An HDMI splitter will take care of the extra output when the time comes. Will sleep on it and order something tomorrow.

    In the meantime, been doing more 7am plastering. So frustrating, can't get much done before it gets too hot. The plaster sets before I've finished getting up up there. Still, almost there, mainly just rounding out the apexes.
     
  8. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Quick update . . . the ceiling is finally plastered, including at last the tricky bit between the chimney and the beam.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    While waiting for the plaster to dry a bit, I started filling in the demolished chimney. Where the tv is going it's blocked off with fireproof plasterboard backed with that special insulation for chimneys. The rest is just boarded up.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    The pipe on the bottom left is a fresh air vent than runs to outside. I'm hoping it will provide some ventilation for the equipment that gets installed in the niches. As the temperature has dropped back to more normal levels, I was able to get on and plaster this wall too.

    [​IMG]

    Yesterday was a marathon 11 hour painting session (cutting in round those beams takes ages!), and most of the ceiling is now done.

    [​IMG]

    I still need to paint the wall, then I can get on with the AV wall build. I've only ever made a chicken coop out of scrap wood before (and that turned out wonky), so this will be a challenge!

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Bad news: Progress is slow. Good news: There is progress!

    After lots of measuring, head scratching, and more measuring, the TV wall mount is up.

    [​IMG]

    The stuff that takes ages is all the annoying little jobs like moving sockets, which invariably means chasing out walls and replastering over the top. I installed a multi room system bringing french and uk tv to every room last year, and of course the sockets are in the wrong place so they had to be moved. As did the power. And the network.

    Anyway, with the tv positioned, time to start building the floating wall structure.

    [​IMG]

    Obviously the wall, floor, and old chimney footing are not straight or level. That would be too easy. Still, some added motivation to get on with it arrived by courier at 8:30 monday morning…

    [​IMG]
     
  10. simonlpearce

    simonlpearce
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    Feel your pain with woodwork. I just embarked on building an AV wall infront of an old chimney, and my main bug bear was that the wood wasnt straight, and even though i measure like 5 times and cut once, things still arent 100% true...

    Looking good though, cant wait to see it finished.
     
  11. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Ah, what you need are carpenter chickens. Mine have decided to come and help with the build:

    [​IMG]

    What is it with sawmills and straight wood? Mine isn't straight either. The wall is 3.5m wide, so I had to buy 4m lengths, and some what was on offer looked like it must have been cut from a banana tree. We chose the straightest lengths we could find, but none are perfect. Still, I know from doing a few regular partition walls (in metal stud work) that once everything is plastered and painted white, small errors don't really show.

    I got the next level of the frame done today, installed the hot air vents, and more importantly the first bit of kit - the centre speaker. Just for testing the cutout and that the frame behind didn't block it, which it did (by 3mm), so I had to rejig it a bit.

    [​IMG]

    I insulated all round the air vents / tubes, and then lit the pellet burner and let it do it's worst for an hour, blasting hot air through those tubes. It was 26 degrees outside already today, so it wasn't the ideal conditions for it, but it has to be done!

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Made some more progress, nearly there now. Got the next level of the structure up, and checked the TV placement:

    [​IMG]

    Started boarding out. Checking the first speaker cutout for size:

    [​IMG]

    Then filled the void with left over insulation to make sure it doesn't vibrate when the volume is cranked up!

    [​IMG]

    Checking the niche for the amp ended up the correct size:

    [​IMG]

    It might not look like it but there is ventilation above and to the sides :) the top of the niche is only a few cm deep. The lower niches are largely open behind because they provide access to all sorts of sockets, and also to a service tunnel that runs all the way round the house and has a spur which opens into that corner. Handy for pulling additional cabling if necessary. The 32mm drain pipe (hard to spot) between the telly opening and the lower niche is to run cables between kit and tv. I also installed a dedicated power socket in the tv opening.

    Then finished boarding it all up. My wife and I were sticking on the angle beads at midnight so they'd be dry to start skimming in the morning!

    [​IMG]

    Finished skimming it this morning. Took longer than I hoped as the back of the recess is really tricky and I ended up having to do that part twice, the second time to cover up the pigs ear I made of it the first go!

    [​IMG]

    Hopefully it will finish drying today / overnight so that I can paint it tomorrow. It's already mostly dry so I think I'll be ok. A quick coat of paint and then I can finally get the speakers etc in there and relax.
     
  13. Gboardman1959

    Gboardman1959
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    Make sure it is fully dry before you give it a mist coat and sand down any rough patches don't rush it now and spoil a terrific job .Well done
     
  14. simonlpearce

    simonlpearce
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    Wish i knew how to plaster, looks like your really coming along at a good pace though!
     
  15. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Plastering turns out to be not that hard. I had a plasterer here a few months back doing a job in the kitchen. I asked him to talk me through what he was doing, which he kindly did. A couple of weeks later I had a go on a wall and it came out ok.

    When it came replacing these three double height sloping ceilings, I thought I'd try doing the lot myself, including skimming. By the time I had finished doing 150m2 from a scaffold tower, plastering this wall seemed quite easy (apart from that difficult recess).

    The main thing I think is to be patient (let the stuff start to set before trying to get it smooth), and to not try and do too much in one go. No doubt a real plasterer would have done all this much quicker than I ever could, but they would also have cost a lot more.

    This stuff drys to a nice white finish, almost doesn't need painting. I have just given the wall a coat of white, and it's looking ok. I'll see how it looks in the daylight, and then might be able to get the tv and speakers in there tomorrow. Fingers crossed.
     
  16. simonlpearce

    simonlpearce
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    Interesting, might get on YouTube and watch a few how to's on plastering, I have an entire room to give it a try on so might start on my build and see how it goes.

    Looking forward to seeing your finished, will be nice to sit back with a beer and a good film knowing the hard work you put into it!
     
  17. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Argh, should have updated this sooner, but as soon as I finished "the wall" I was straight into other jobs, like getting all the furniture back into the three rooms I've redone. It's like moving house again.

    Anyway, after a coat of paint the thing is pretty much done:

    [​IMG]

    All the kit fits perfectly into the made-to-measure lower niches:

    [​IMG]
    (Yamaha RX-V673, Foxsat HD, Freebox Revolution, Wii)

    There's enough space to add an Apple TV which I will do eventually. Anything bigger will most likely replace one of the existing boxes. If not, drilling a quick cable hole in the bottom of one of the big upper level niches will allow it to be used to house more equipment.

    There are coloured LEDs in the recess too…they don't come out too well in these pictures, they look better in reality:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    For now we'll leave everything white, and see how it looks once we've filled up the niches with either DVDs or other stuff (I'll get some glass shelves cut to go into those). A few decorative items may be enough to settle it down, but we might add colour later too.

    The in-wall Polks (and the APart centre) sound amazing. The rears, although high up, sound better than I expected.

    [​IMG]

    For future expansion, there's electricity on top of all three beams. The front beam will eventually hide a powered screen. The wall was brought out just far enough that a screen can still drop in front of it. The other two beams have power, cat5e, coax, and (multiple) HDMI cables ready to hang a projector from either one. There are speaker cables to the back wall so I can add a couple more of those round in-walls as rear 7.1 speakers later too. And I've put in a wall plate to connect the subwoofer which should arrive next week.

    Over all, I'm quite happy. Mostly with the fact that I designed it and was able to build something that actually looks remarkably like the plan, and is a lot less wonky than the chicken house!

    [​IMG]

    All the important sizes are to within a few mm of the plan (I still don't know how I managed that). The main difference was the recess ended up being a few centimetres less deep than planned. That was due to constraints with the wood I was using and the need to pass cables and ventilation between levels. In the end it doesn't really matter, the depth chosen was pretty arbitrary, the main thing was that the wall shouldn't look like one massive slab stuck at the end of the room - the recess is there to give the impression that the top part floats, and it I think it does, so mission accomplished.

    If I was to do another one, I'd be more detailed in the planning. My sketchup design was sized for the finished wall, it didn't take into account materials. So from a finished measurement I had to deduct the plasterboard and a few mm for plaster (which combine to 1.5cm per face, or 4.5cm over the whole height, not including niches) to work out the dimensions of the frame. In hindsight, it would have been better to either buy the timber first, or at least find out the dimensions available and then plan according to that. Instead I just bought what was on special offer and looked sturdy, and figured it out afterwards. Building it on-the-fly led to some head-scratching at times!

    I really don't enjoy DIY, but I'm pretty pleased with the result, so it was worth the effort. Now if only I could settle down, relax, and watch a few movies, but we have a baby due which gives me a somewhat hard and fast deadline to get a nursery and bathroom done!
     
  18. CH_2009

    CH_2009
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    Looks fantastic!
     
  19. simonlpearce

    simonlpearce
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    At first when i saw this thread i actually quite liked your old school fire and thought it would be a shame to ruin that charm with an AV build. Now its complete though i think it looks amazing and think it totally suits the environment!

    BTW - I tried some plastering but it didnt go too well. Not sure if it is my lack of ability, or the type of plaster i was using as it seemed REALLY grainy and had a more textured finish than smooth. Think i may look for some finishing plaster as the stuff i have is 1 coat...
     
  20. Eye of Harmony

    Eye of Harmony
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    Haha - everyone liked that chimney except us! There were just too many problems with it though. It wasn't properly insulated, the beam was too far back, the opening was a weird size so there weren't any decent wood burners available to fit, etc etc. Also, having lived with a wood burner for five years in the previous place, neither of us really wanted to go through that again. Chopping, transporting, bringing in, and cleaning up wood is almost a full time job (we got through about 15 cubic metres a season). A fully automatic programmable pellet stove was high on our list of priorities :)

    For your plaster - did you use a decent mixer? The ones for paint don't really cut it, they seem to leave lumps which can end up giving a grainy texture. The ones made for plaster (or even cement) work better. Might help?
     

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