Beware! It’s a long post. I took copious notes for future projects! I showed you a little of what we did in the last post. Here I will go in greater detail. Read about the whole closet conversion (1, 2, 3, 4).
Tools and Materials
- Twelve 8′ 2x4s (We got premium wood because the difference in price was $0.02 from the regular)
- One 8′ Treated 2×4 (I would have bought a shorter length if it was available)
- One 8′ 2×6
- Box of 3″ deck screws
- Two boxes 2 1/2″ deck screws
- Box of concrete anchor screws
- Hexagon drill bit (for anchor screws)
- 1/8″, 5/32″ 1/4″ wood drill bits
- 1/8″, 5/32″, 1/4″ concrete drill bits
- Two 1/4- x 3 1/8″ sleeve anchors
- Cordless circular saw (I love this thing! It’s so light.)
- 7-inch carpenter’s square
- Measuring tape and pencil
- 6″ and 3′ Level
- Hammer, screwdrivers and other odds and ends from the toolbox
- Cordless drills (we used two alternately)
- Corded drill
- Tall pots used as saw horses (optional)
Putting together the frame
Our new door frame consisted of:
- 1 – 95″ 2×4 – for the left side of the frame
- 4 – 95″ 2x4s- to create the column on the right side of the frame
- 1 – 40″ 2×4 along the very top
- 2 – 36″ 2x4s- header support for the door
The doorway frame was built outside and then installed into the space. Here’s our workshop area with two tall pots as our saw horses.
The left side of frame would attach to the existing wall. Our hope was to secure it using concrete anchor screws. The right side of the frame was built as a column so it was nice and sturdy. We combined four 2×4’s together for the column.
The 2×4 column was installed with a pattern of one 2×4 on it’s side, then two 2×4’s stacked on top one on top of the other flat and the final 2×4 on its side. Again this pattern, gives the column more strength than having all four piece in the same direction.
The top of the frame secured all the supports together and then we had a header right above the door frame. The header consisted of two 36″ 2x4s placed head to head for maximum strength.
We also made sure to install the 36″ 2×4 header at 82″ from the bottom, so we had enough clearance for the pre-hung door (We needed clearance for the door, frame and gap under the door).
Once we had screwed all the pieces into place, the frame was brought inside to install it into the space.
Installing the frame
The left side of the frame needed to be attached to the concrete wall. We bought concrete anchor screws that were long enough to screw the 2×4 to the wall. Our worry was the concrete block wouldn’t hold the screw or chip off.
So we measured the thickest part of the block to drill into and tested it out.
The instructions for the anchor screws said we should pre-drill with a 5/32 drill bit. I think this is actually for solid concrete, not concrete block. We tried the 5/32 bit, but when we then screwed in the concrete anchor it had no traction at all so we switched up to a 1/8 drill bit which worked much better.
Unfortunately, drilling into the interior parts of the concrete block still didn’t work well. We split the block on our test run.
At this point the three of us were pretty flabbergasted at what to do. Nate was determined to push on, but my Dad and I convinced him to take a break and get back to work in the morning.
Regroup on Sunday
After an evening off, we were well rested and ready to start again. My dad came up with a great alternative plan, so Nate and I ran off to get an 8′ 2×6 before my parents arrived.
Instead of drilling into the side of the block we would attach a 2×6 to the interior face of the block. Then we would attach our frame to 2×6. We knew the face of the block could hold the screw since we do that all the time to hang photos.
Nate pre-drilled through the 2×6 with a our 1/8″ wood bit and then followed with the 1/8″ concrete bit. Then he drilled in the concrete anchors. We were all relieved to see that the concrete anchors went in easily and held.
Phew! We were so excited to get this wall in!
Closing off the closet
With the closet wall secured it was time to build out the new bathroom wall and attach everything together. I measured all the pieces and then went outside to our “workshop” to cut them to size.
Our new wall frame consisted of:
- 3 – 90″ 2x4s – for each side
- 1 – 36″ 2×4 – for the header
- 2 – approximately 15″ 2x4s – for interior support
- 1 – 36″ Treated 2×4 – for the footer
Before we screwed all the pieces together though, we wanted to pre-drill holes in the footer so we could attach it to the cement shower floor. (We decided not to remove the shower base since it wasn’t necessary and potentially a lot of work for a closet.)
For the footer we used treated lumber to prevent moisture issues in the future. Securing the footer was very similar to how we attached the 2×6 to the concrete blocks. The main difference was securing it with concrete anchors we used sleeve anchors. After pre-drilling a hole into the 2×4 and concrete, you hammer these guys in and then tighten the bolt to expand the base that secure the lumber to the concrete.
So, we brought in the cut piece of treated lumber. Then leveled it with a few handy shims because the shower floor slants to the drainage hole. (We will level the floor later.)
Then the next step was to drill a hole through the 2×4 and concrete for the anchor to fit into using both first a wood then concrete drill bit.
Our cordless drill didn’t have quite the umph! for drilling into the concrete so we switched to a corded model to finish drilling our holes.
Then with the holes done, we attached all the piece of the frame and brought it in. The anchors were hammered in and tightened.
The final part was securing the frame into place. We used more concrete anchors to attach it to the bathroom wall (behind me in the photo above) and then used our 2 1/2″ deck screws to attach it to the new column and above the door opening.
And with that our framing was done. Phew! It was one of those projects I was really excited to finish since we spent weeks thinking through all the possible ways to make this shower a closet. Nate and I were really happy with the end result. We both felt we came to the right decision to remove all the blocks above the doorway.
None of it would have been possible without the help of my Dad though. So thanks Dad for once again mentoring us one of our weekend projects. Your help and knowledge is invaluable.