DIY Network

How To Start Construction On A Home Theater

The seating, speakers and projector layout is complete, and now it's time to start the construction of the home theater.

More in Decorating

seating, speakers and projector layout complete
  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $1,000 - $2,500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard


Step 1: Run the Wires

Technology expert Corey Greenberg, engineer Mark Midyett, and the homeowner, Peter Moore, wanted to take advantage of the unfinished walls and ceiling to make running the wires easier. In this particular situation, the installers generally run a bunch of wires at once since they all start in the same place -- the location of the equipment racks.
One batch of wires will deliver audio to all the speakers. Mark recommends using 12-gauge cable for the left, center, right side and surround on the right and left side, even though two sizes down -- 16-gauge -- is acceptable.
The subwoofers are powered, which means they take a low-level signal and have the amplifiers built into them. So the wire to be run into them will look much more like the wire that connects the CD player to the surround-sound system receiver.
They'll also need to run wires for the video. Depending upon the equipment and projector, run sever RG-6 coaxial cables to the projector to transmit the video signal. If using a flat screen or rear-projection television, run these cables to that location.
When wiring a home theater, it's easiest to use a common path when running both audio and video cable.
When you have speaker cables, audio cables, video cables and power cords running all over the room, induces hum into the wiring. If you run them at 90-degrees you won't get any of that hum.
If the room already has pre-existing finished walls, one good trick is to take off the baseboard running around the room. Notch out a small area of the drywall to chase the cable in. When you get to the correct point in the wall, cut a small hole down there and then a hole higher up in the wall. Then chase the wiring up inside the drywall. Then when the baseboard is put back on, it will cover up the hole at the bottom and by mounting a speaker up above, the hole above will be covered.

Step 2: Insulate the Walls and Ceiling

With the wiring in place it's time to put R-13 or "Batt" insulation in the walls and ceiling. For this particular project, Mark and Corey utilize a special sound technique -- alternating standard insulation with panel fiberglass insulation.
By using both batt and panel insulation, which is mounted right to the wall, cover the panels with loosely woven fabric to give it the appropriate look, and it will do a superb job of absorbing sound in the home theater.

Step 3: Create a Sound Absorber

If this were not a home theater being built, drywall would be put up. But to further improve the sound quality of the room, rigid walls should be avoided, and this means adding an extra step to the construction.
A special channel is mounted to the stud walls, using specially made isolation clips, which work much like shock absorbers in a car. The flexible clips are attached to the layers of drywall to the channel, and this makes the sheet-rock wall work well as a bass absorber.
Resilient channel is attached to the stud walls because it helps create a deeper airspace and improves acoustic performance. It's a formed 22-gauge galvanized steel strip shaped like a hat, and it's often referred to as "hat" or "furring" channel. Resilient channel is available at most drywall supply stores, and it's affordable, usually running 35 cents a foot.

Step 4: Install the Drywall

Once the resilient channel is in place, the drywallers are called in. This isn't a typical drywall installation. A special technique is used to further enhance the sound quality of the theater. The special technique involves applying two drywall layers of different thicknesses to give the wall more mass, which helps with bass absorption. The first layer is laid horizontally and the second layer is laid vertically so none of the seams overlap.
Don't let the walls and ceiling touch each other; they'll move with the sound. The wall will move forward and backward, while the ceiling moves up and down, which helps absorb sound.
Next, the cracks between the walls and ceiling are sealed with a special acoustic caulk. It's flexible and non-hardening, which allows the walls and floor to move. Acoustic caulk also seals the room, which isolates the theater from the rest of the house. This means the volume won't disturb anyone else in the house.

special drywall helps with bass absorption