How to Support Old Floor Joists?
You may have heard about supporting old floor joists before. You might even have some old floor joist laying around your house or garage. They are probably not very strong, but they could still serve their purpose if you just left them alone.
However, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to use these old floor joists if it means saving money and time during renovation projects or remodeling projects.
However, there are times when you need to remove old floor joists and replace them with stronger ones. For example, if you want to install new carpeting in your home or renovate the kitchen. You will certainly save money and time if you replace old floor joists with stronger ones instead of removing them completely.
In any case, here’s how you can support old floor joists:
How To Support Old Floor Joists?
There are several ways to support old floor joists. Here are the most common methods:
Crawl Space Supports – If you live in a small apartment or condo, then you may not have much room to spare. That’s where crawl spaces come into play. Crawling spaces provide extra storage space for items such as furniture, tools and other household goods.
They also allow for ventilation and fresh air circulation since they are usually located near a window or outside.
1. Measure Your Room And Find Out How Much Wood Is There On The Ceiling
Before you start cutting down old floor joists, you first need to make sure that there is enough wood on the ceiling of your room. If there isn’t much wood on the ceiling, then you won’t be able to support all of the weight of your body while lifting up old floor joists.
Floor Joist Bridging – This works by eliminating the need to remove old floor joists. Instead you will be adding a bridge beam (or two) right above the old floor joists. This will help distribute the weight or load of the new floor joists above while maintaining the structural integrity of the entire room.
One thing you have to remember though is that you cannot place support beams on top of weak or damaged floor joists.
You can get a tape measure and measure the width of your room from wall to wall. Get a helper to help you in stretching the tape across the width of the room. Record your results.
You can then multiply that number by two in order to determine the area of your room in square feet.
Next, you will need to measure how much wood is on the ceiling of your room. Again, ask for some help from a friend and ask him or her to help you in finding the joists in your ceiling. Use a flashlight to help you see if you are having trouble seeing inside the dark and cluttered ceiling.
Again, record the measurements and use your calculator or chart to help you with the math. Remember, multiplying by two will give you the square footage of wood that you will need for your new floor joists.
The bigger the room, the more wood you will need to cut down in order to support it. Cut down and prepare as much wood as you can now because heavier objects like washers and dryers will be placed on the new floor joists when completed.
Decide whether you will need one or two beams to support your new floor joists. If you are installing carpeting or a wood floor, then one beam should be enough. If your new floor joists are going to be carrying the weight of appliances and any other heavy objects that you are planning to place inside the crawlspace, then two beams will be necessary.
Make sure that you leave at least 36 inches between your new floor joists for ventilation purposes. This is very important especially if your crawlspace houses pipes, ducts and other stuff.
You can opt to buy prefabricated bridge beams if you are short on time.
2. Cut Down Old Joists And Mark New Locations
Old floor joists should be cut down using a circular saw and calculating the reduction in depth based on the size of your new floor joists. For example, if you are using 2×8 beams then you will need to reduce your old floor joists by 3.5 inches.
When cutting down old floor joists, make sure that you cut the wood straight across.
To make the transition between old and new floor joists a little smoother, cut out some of the side portions of the old floor joists. New bridging beamed can be nailed and glued in place.
Lay out your new floor joists in a way that allows for at least 36 inches of space for ventilation or pipe clearance. Mark their locations using tape, chalk or nails.
3. Install New Joists
Use a spirit level to make sure that your new floor joists are horizontal. Use beams and screws to secure them in place.
You can cover the gaps between the new floor joists and the old ones with wooden slats. Nail them securely in place. The slats should be flush with the sides of the new joists but leave about half an inch gap between each slat so that they are not touching one another.
This will allow for adequate ventilation.
4. Install Bridging Beams
If you are installing carpeting or wood flooring on top your new floor joists, then a single bridging beam should be enough to distribute the weight of any heavy objects that will be placed inside the crawlspace. If you are installing more than one bridging beam, make sure that there is at least 18 inches of space between each one.
5. Cover Up And Clean Up
Cover up the new floor joists with plywood, making sure that each layer of plywood is flush with the joists underneath it and the edges are staggered. This way, the plywood will act as insulation to your floor. Cover up the bridging beam or beams with plywood as well.
You can now place drywall, paneling, or any other finishing material over your new floor.
6. Finishing The Crawlspace
Run a ventilation pipe through the crawlspace if you want to use your new floor for some heavy duty activities like playing basketball or placing a pool table inside. The pipe should run from the highest point inside the crawlspace to the lowest point. If you are installing an air vent then make sure that it is covered with mesh to keep out insects and rodents.
If rodents or insects do get inside, they can chew up your new floor and create quite a mess so you might want to think about installing traps as well.
7. Install The Door
You can now install a door over the opening of the crawlspace if you are putting an entrance there. Make sure that it is properly secured and has a quality lock to it. You can also install shutters on the opening as an added security measure.
If you are using your new floor for storage, then you should really think about installing shelves and other storage units so that everything has its place. Take the time to label and arrange everything neatly to avoid confusion.
8. Maintain Your Floor
Make sure you regularly maintain your floor by sweeping it out and washing it down at least once a month. This will keep dirt, dust, mildew and other harmful elements away from your floor. You should also keep an eye on the framing and make repairs when necessary.
If you are using your floor for storage, then once a year you should go through it and throw out all the unnecessary clutter. This will help keep the weight of everything down and prevent your floor from collapsing. Make sure that the door of your crawlspace is always locked so that unauthorized people do not stumble across your secret floor.
Your floor is now ready to use. Just make sure you hide the entrance to your crawlspace very well if you do not want anyone stumbling across it. You can also improve upon your design by adding finishing touches like solid wood doors or installing lighting and electrical outlets.
Building an underground floor might seem like a daunting task at first but if you go slowly and take your time, you should have no major problems. Just make sure you build it right the first time because you do not want to have to rebuild it. As long as you approach the project seriously and carefully, you will be able to create a durable and safe underground floor that you and your family can enjoy for years to come.
Planning Your Crawlspace
When building your underground floor, you need to plan it a little so that your design will be efficient and practical. Here is some advice on planning your crawlspace:
You want your floor to blend in with the scenery so when people are walking about above you don’t want them to be looking down on a hole in the ground. You will need to disguise the entrance to your crawlspace so that it looks like part of the landscape. A good way to do this is by planting grass and flowers around the entrance to your hole.
Make sure you plan for utilities. If you are installing electricity in the floor then run some cables through the hole first and leave them hanging out of the bottom so that all you have to do later is hook up a power source.
You want your crawlspace to be well ventilated. You can build little vents all along the bottom or you can leave room for a small air exchange system. Be creative but make sure that the air in your floor is constantly circulating.
You don’t want it to get stuffy down there or people will start getting sick.
You want your floor to be reasonably sized. Building a huge underground mansion is beyond the scope of this article but you get the idea. Just make sure that your floor is spacious enough for the purpose you intend.
If you are using your floor for storage then take this into consideration when deciding on its size. Remember, you want to get the most out of your floor so if you build it too big then you are just wasting space and resources.
You can build more than one floor if you like. This can be useful if you want to split up your living arrangements so that different groups can stay apart or if you just need more living space. Keep in mind that each floor will make the task of supporting them that much greater so you want to make sure that you build them solidly.
You don’t want your floor to look like it is sinking into the ground. This will just draw attention to it and if anyone notices the grass is always greener on the other side then they will start asking questions. You can disguise the fact that your floor is below ground by building it up a little off the ground.
You can build small concrete or wooden pillars all around the outside edge of your floor and then mound dirt or gravel onto them. This is a simple technique but it blends in well with the surroundings.
We hope these tips will help you to construct a safe and efficient underground floor. Remember, be safe and have fun!
Building an underground bunker:
If you have the resources and time then building an underground bunker can add another dimension to survival. Bunkers are typically thought of in terms of defending against a foreign enemy but they can also be a great retreat in a SHTF scenario.
You can build your bunker pretty much wherever you want as long as you don’t mind digging and it’s fairly easy to build one as you can essentially make it as complex as you like. They also provide a high degree of protection against the elements and will ensure that your living area stays at a comfortable temperature.
However, there are some drawbacks. It takes a great deal of time and effort to build one and if you don’t do it right then it won’t be of much use. That’s why its best to learn from someone who has experience in this matter.
Once you have all your plans prepared then all you have to do is get digging!
There are three types of bunker construction that can be used. These are above ground, semi-submerged and fully submerged. Your choice will depend on what you want from your bunker and what materials you have available.
Let’s take a look at all your options:
On ground construction:
Building your bunker on the ground is the easiest option as far as digging goes but it will offer the least protection from a SHTF scenario. If you do go for this type then you will need to make sure that your walls are very thick and that they are solidly anchored to the ground.
One advantage of this type is that it will be fairly easy to furnish and you can use the earth that you dig up either inside or outside the bunker (depending on your choice of construction) to blend it in with the surroundings.
A semi-submerged bunker is built into the ground but not quite to the same level as a basic trench. They are fairly easy to construct and a good option if you don’t have much building experience. One advantage of this type is that it offers more protection than an on ground bunker but it still has the advantage of blending in with its surroundings.
The main disadvantage with this type is that it’s not as strong as a fully submerged bunker and also more time consuming to build. You will also need to make sure that the walls are very thick and are solidly anchored to the ground.
Fully submerged construction:
This type of bunker is completely underground and offers the most protection against a SHTF scenario. They are very strong and well built but they do take more time and effort to build than other types. It’s also more difficult to construct stairs and rooms as you have to keep the walls strong.
One advantage of a fully submerged bunker is that it can be used as a safe shelter for storing supplies even in times of relative peace. The disadvantage is that it takes a great deal of time and effort to build it.
The choice is yours as to which type you decide to build and it certainly isn’t an easy one.
As with all things preparedness you need to consider your personal situation and geography when planning and constructing your bunker. The type of earth you have will affect the building process as will things like the local climate. For instance, if you live in a desert then the ground is probably hard packed most of the time and therefore it’s going to be more difficult to dig.
However, if you live in a place that has a lot of rain then the ground is going to be soft and muddy and also prone to flooding. In either case you’ll have to account for things like this if you plan to build a fully submerged bunker.
As with most things it’s best to build your bunker in stages. Just dig out enough to sit down and rest for awhile and then expand when you feel up to it. You don’t want to get too ambitious and end up getting sick or injuring yourself by pushing yourself too hard.
Types of materials
The type of material that you use to build your bunker is going to depend very much on what’s available to you locally:
Steel drums: If you are lucky enough to have some old steel drums lying around then these can be great for building an underground bunker.
Sources & references used in this article:
- Floor joist and support system therefor (LR Daudet, GS Ralph, EL Ponko – US Patent 6,301,854, 2001 – Google Patents)
- Joist brace (L George – US Patent 1,656,741, 1928 – Google Patents)
- Joist support member (LR Daudet, GS Ralph, EL Ponko – US Patent 6,761,005, 2004 – Google Patents)