Converting Your Garage Into Living Space

If the walls of your garage are of masonry block, you can build a stud wall of 2-by-3-inch lumber against the existing walls, then install insulation blankets between the studs, and attach the paneling to the studs with adhesive.

Another method of finishing masonry walls is to insulate them using plastic foam insulation (either polyurethane or polystyrene). Cement the foam boards directly to the concrete walls, then glue 1/2-inch gypsum board over the foam to provide a finished wall, as well as fire protection. But, before insulating the walls, be sure the surface to which you will be bonding is structurally sound, clean and dry, and is free of grease and loose paint. With poured concrete foundations, it is especially important that the surface is free of any form release substances that may have been used when the foundation walls were poured. Since these materials usually contain oils, greases, and/or silicones, the masonry surface should be washed down thoroughly with tri-sodium-phosphate (TSP) or a strong detergent.

With masonry nails or construction adhesive, attach horizontal wood strips (2 inches wide and the same thickness as the foam insulation) continuously along the top and bottom edges of the masonry walls and around windows and doors. Then, cut the foam insulation to fit around any surface projections, such as windows, wood strips, electrical outlets, and conduits. This is accomplished easily with any sharp utility knife by scoring the insulation and snapping it, or just by cutting all the way through it. Caution: Before applying any adhesive on polystyrene type foams, make certain that the adhesive is formulated for this purpose. Polystyrene foams can be severely damaged by certain solvents contained in adhesive formulations.

Following the instructions on the cartridge, apply a continuous bead of foam adhesive around the perimeter and strips in the center of the foam. Or, apply daubs the size of a golf ball on 12-inch centers around the perimeter and through the field of the foam board. Do one board of insulation at a time. When the adhesive has been applied, place the foam against the wall surface horizontally or vertically, whichever is more practical. Uniformly press the insulation board to the wall surface over every square foot to assure a positive and intimate bond. Make any necessary adjustment. Repeat this action for every board of foam insulation. Allow the adhesive to dry 24 hours before covering the foam with any other materials. However; again make sure that the adhesive you use to install the paneling is compatible with and will not damage the foam.

When all the surfaces to be insulated have been covered with insulation, you are ready to apply gypsum board. This should be cut to fit the entire height of the wall, since it will fit over the foam and the wood strips. Cut out any openings for electrical outlets and switches as needed. Then, apply foam adhesive to the gypsum board in the same manner as you did to the insulation. Stand the board vertically and adhere it to the foam, firmly and uniformly applying pressure over each square foot of surface. Use gypsum board nails at the top and bottom to fasten the panels in position until the adhesive sets.

With your room completely walled, you can now begin the final stages of the installation, which consist of taping and cementing joints and smoothing over any possible surface irregularities. (If you used adhesive to hold the panels, there are no nail holes to fill.) Joint cement, “spackle,”isused to apply the tape over the tapered edge joints and to smooth and level the surface. It comes in powder form and is mixed with water to a soft putty consistency so that it can be easily spread with a trowel or putty knife. It can also be obtained in premixed form. The general procedure for taping is as follows:

1. Use a wide (5-inch) spackling knife and spread the cement in the tapered edges, starting at the top of the wall.

2. Press the tape into the recess with the putty knife until the joint cement is forced through the perforations.

3. Cover the tape with additional cement, feathering the outer edges.

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