While not every home maintenance or home improvement project requires the homeowner to completely rebuild a room, it can be extremely useful to understand the process. Once you know what a room is made of, and how it is put together, you can identify the probable cause of a range of common household problems including cracking, damp patches and draughts.
The structure of the room
Your room is likely to contain a mixture of structural walls and stud walls. A structural wall is solid, and forms part of the overall structure of the building. It’s often referred to as a supporting or retaining wall. The stud, on the other hand, is hollow – it’s made of a wooden frame, and has plasterboard fixed to wither side. Insulation and electrical service wires are commonly found inside the stud wall. A structural wall is unlikely to have insulation unless it has been double skinned (otherwise known as a “cavity wall”).
The basic bits
Most rooms in your home need the following services and components:
- Heating pipes
- Radiators or other heat sources
These are the basics of a room, and have to be incorporated in the safest and most sensible manner. Heating pipes, for instance, should be as short as possible so the water has the shortest possible distance to travel from boiler to radiator or tap. This makes the pressure as good as it can be.
Electrical wires should only be fitted by a trained and qualified electrician, and are normally run inside one part of the stud wall only to minimise the risk of screwing through the wall into a mains ring. To be safe, when you affix pictures and mirrors try to do so through the stud (the wooden structure of the wall) rather than the plasterboard, and don’t go near sockets and switches.
The heating system
The heating pipes run in the gap between ceilings and floors, usually following the line of a joist – to which they can be fixed with brackets. It is wise to run pipes around the edge of a room to minimise the risk of accidentally nailing or sawing through them at a later date, should floorboards be lifted or new lighting be installed in the ceiling. The heating should be fitted by a qualified plumber, and if you have anything to do with the boiler itself you must use a GAS SAFE engineer. There are special considerations when you are dealing with “wet” areas – bathrooms, kitchens and shower rooms or toilets.
A wet area is any part of the home that has been plumbed. The most common wet areas (see above) are toilets, bathrooms and kitchens. When putting plasterboard and finishing onto the walls of a wet area, you should use moisture resistant plasterboard and water resistant paint. Tiles should always be applied using a waterproof adhesive, which will prevent water from leaking through the tiles and into the gypsum in the plasterboard. Any weakness in the seal will result in water pooling behind surfaces, and can cause channels that run water through floorboards and onto the ceilings below.