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How to Build a Closet Between Dormers

Learn how to convert wasted dormer space into a play and storage area.

More in Remodeling

  • Time

    Weekend

  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Knock a Hole in the Wall

Use a pencil to mark the outline where you will cut through the drywall.

Then use a utility knife to score the paper of the plaster. This will enable a clean break (both inside and out) when it is time to knock in the wall.

Use a reciprocating saw to cut the stud out of the way. Start the saw before it makes contact with the stud. Make sure the saw is level, and then cut all the way through the stud.

Tip: Before breaking into a wall, use an AC finder to make sure there are no electrical wires behind the wall.

Step 2: Install the Door

For this project, a pre-hung door that is already hanging on the actual jamb is being used. Note: You can get this type of door at any home improvement store.

The door has to be cut down to size since the space in this room is shorter than a standard door.

Sand and paint the door.

Line up the two jambs into the new space that has been created. Fit the groove and the tongue together. They should snap into place.

It's important to make sure that the sides are plumb to the wall. This is especially important on the hinge side of the door. Use a level to check this.

After adjusting for plumb, use the nail gun to fire a couple of nails through the trim, drywall and stud.

After the hinge side of the frame is in place, insert the door to check for square. Adjust for square, making sure there is a "penny clearance" (an even gap the distance of a penny) all the way around the door. Finally, finish firing the nails to secure the door.

Step 3: Build the Storage Boxes

Next, you'll work on building storage boxes for the closet between the two dormer windows. These storage boxes are built into the wall to maximize storage (Image 1). Paint the wall in the closet before installing the storage boxes. Note: The storage boxes will be housed between stud shelving.

Use a stud sensor to determine where the studs are in the wall. In the space right between the studs, mark and score the drywall in the same way that you did to install the new door.

Cut the drywall between the studs using a drywall saw. This newly found, hidden space between the studs leaves a depth of 4-1/4" for the storage boxes and shelves.

Cut the pre-primed wood for the frames, shelves and trim for the storage boxes on a chop saw. The plywood is ripped down to 3-1/2" wide strips. These are used to make a box that is 3-1/2" deep and will fit in between the studs (14").

A 1/4"-thick plywood back is secured with finishing nails (Image 2) and glue.

Step 4: Install the Storage Boxes

Paint the storage boxes, then set the boxes into the wall.

Before securing the storage shelves, check with a small level to make sure that everything is level and plumb.

Install the shelves, (staggering at different heights as you install).

Casing trim is added around the perimeter with a nail gun (much like trimming a window). The trim should rest flush against the wall of the closet. Use the nail gun to drive about 4 nails down each side through the trim, drywall, and studs.

Follow the exact same procedure for all of the storage boxes.

Go back and touch up the nail holes with paint after you finish installing all of the boxes.

Step 5: Install the Lighting

To light things up as well as cool things down in the closet, have an electrician install thin, fluorescent fixtures.

Tip: An incandescent light bulb gets hot. For an incandescent light bulb to be to code, it needs to be a minimum of 24" away from any surface.

Step 6: Install the Carpet Tiles

Be sure to look on the underside of the carpet tile to find the arrow. The arrow indicates the direction of the pile. You want to make sure that each tile is run in the same direction.

Slide the first floor tile up underneath the baseboards in the corner of the space.

Apply double-sided carpet tape to the corners of the carpet square.

With the first tile in place, lay the next one, making sure the edges are aligned (Image 1).

When it comes time to cut a tile, take your dimensions, mark them on the back of the tile to be cut, and use a utility knife to cut (Image 2).

Use a framing square as a cutting guide to ensure a straight edge when cutting the tile.

Turn the cut edge to the outside. Two factory edges will give a cleaner seam.

Tip: When laying carpet tiles in a large area, or an area without square walls, dry fit them first and then come back to secure them after they are all lined up.

Step 7: Add the Door Accessories

To install a ball catch to the top of the door, first trace the outline of the ball catch flange on the top of the door.

Use a 13/16" drill bit to drive a 3/4" diameter hole in the top corner of the door. Drill to a depth of 1-1/2, or until the drill bit enters the hollow core.

Use a wood chisel to carve out a rectangular recess centered on the hole that the drill bit has created in the top of the door.

Then, the ball catch should rest flush with the top of the door. Use a couple of screws to hold the ball catch in place.

Screw on a decorative knob for the door. To finish the project, paint the door frame.

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