Renovating my utility room

Everyone that has done DIY tasks to their house has had that one first major project, it’s the one were you get really excited that you finally get to do what you want. These first projects start with a plan than as you dig into the project you find problems and you start to get scared questioning why the hell did you think you could do this on your own. Well this was that project for me, although I didn’t go into full panic mode since the previous owners had screwed it up so bad I thought it was over my head. I eventually made a plan, took my time and followed through, this got my feet wet into the world of DIY renovations and I have stopped since.


DIY, Utility room, Basement

This is my utility room after the drywall and wood paneling had been removed, you can see the awful wood paneling in the background That I will eventually remove and replace with nice clean drywall. I’ve mentioned before that this house was smoked in but I’m not sure how long, just enough to penetrate every surface, When I removed the wood paneling from the utility room I could instantly smell the smoke, it was like someone was smoking right beside me! so gross!I knew that the previous owners didn’t know what they were doing when they built this basement so i wanted to make sure I double checked everything before I put it all back together.

I started by taking down the drywall/wood paneling, I took some measurements referencing different parts of the basement knowing that most of the wall are most likely not straight, I than decided to check the framing with a 4 foot level and noticed that the walls were out 3/4″ out on a 4 foot level. Having 8 foot studs means from top to bottom the walls were out of level by 1 3/4″ This means my theory of them not knowing what they were doing was very correct and the walls were very badly constructed.

So now that it was my property it became my problem, first was to address the framing issues making sure the walls were straight, level and the frame around the utility room was square. I started off by cutting the anchors they used to attach the bottom plate to the concrete, by doing so I was able to bring the walls back to level were the should be and than I re anchored the walls using a tap-con concrete screw in the corners of the wall. Once the wall were sitting where they should be I added more 2×4 studs to reinforce the structure for drywall.

After I accomplished this task feeling very good with the project so far, I moved onto the door opening of the utility room and this was a disaster all on its own. The door must of broke at some point so instead of fixing it properly they got another door but it didn’t fit so they just secured it temporarily when showing the house. I noticed this right away when I saw the house but figured it was a easy fix until I tried and it was short by 6 inches. I ended up buying two new louvered doors and re framed the opening to fit.


Finally after all the work of straightening the walls the drywall can start going up, This is the exciting part because you finally see the project come together and everything appears so much brighter due to the white walls. When i put up the drywall i left a gap at the bottom so the drywall wasn’t in contact with the concrete and i also left a gap between the drywall and the floor joists to allow for any movement in the house, so the drywall wouldn’t buckle.

Drywall, Utility room, DIY,       Utility room, Drywall, DIY  Utility room, Drywall, Framing

After finishing the wall up with drywall, Ive finally got to do some muding and taping. Let me tell you seeing this trade everyday working on walls, they make it look so easy but its a lot of hard work and patience. I used ready made compound to start, I applied it on the corners in a even spread. I place the corner bead paper, than with the trowel I went over the corner bead embedding it in the mud and troweling off the excess mud. After all the  corners inside and out were done I moved onto the seams, for this I used adhesive fiberglass seam mesh. After the mesh was applied I put a thin coat of mud over the seam. Other side is dry walled and the muding and tapping is complete Which take about 3 applications of sanding and mudding I could now move on to other tasks of the project.

In the original build the previous owners decided it would be a good idea to have the lights to the rec room above the louvered doors, this was just a really stupid location, so I had to move it. I started by watching videos and researching online, since my electrical experience is very limited I wanted to make sure I was completely safe. I shut down the power from the electrical panel, disconnected the wires after checking them with a voltage detector and relocated the switch to the side of the utility room facing the rec room. I was able to lower it because they left enough slack for me to work with, than when I was finished I turned back on the power and tested the lights.

When I bought the house I realized that the heat was on, the upstairs would be super hot while the basement stayed freezing cold. This was also the case when I ran the air conditioning, the downstairs was freezing and the air conditioner ran constantly to cool the up stairs. This in my opinion wasn’t energy efficient. So i decided to add a return vent right before the filter, not really knowing anything about balancing I just guessed what size would be about right for the basement. I started by marking out the size of the duct to be installed, cut out the section with metal tin snips and screwed the new vent in place. I sealed it with metallic duct tape (the right tape for sealing duct work) around the edges to make a tight seal. This was a DIY fix and even though my house is much more balanced, I realize now I should have left it to a professional to have it balanced and working properly. My furnace now runs short amounts of time to heat up and cool the house and is much more energy efficient.

Utility room, drywall, Air return


So now that the major stuff had been taken care of I went ahead and applied touch ups were needed than painted the walls with primer
that is designed for drywall. Since drywall will absorb paint it’s definitely a good idea to get special primer for a even painting application, it will save you money in the long run.

I than went ahead and installed the louvered doors using the instructions included, this completed the project  and it was finally done! This was my first major project in my home, I’ve never framed, dry walled, muded and taped before but with patience and research anything is possible. I’m very happy with how this turned out, and on to my next project!


Utility room, DIY, img_0964 img_0965

Tools Required:

– 4 Foot Level
– screwdriver set
– Hammer
– Impact Drill
– Electrical tester
– pry bar
– Tape measure
– Carpenter square
– carpenter pencil
– Ladder
– Drywall tools
– Ofal knife
– Drywall saw
– Circular power saw

This was definitely a more of a challenging home project, due to the walls not being square when the last home owners did it, and the door opening not being a standard height.
This is a difficult DIY project depending on your skills, it involved framing, electrical, drywalling, mudding/taping and finishing. Although i enjoyed the challenge, I did take my time and i urge people to take their time and work at it slowly when completing a project of this scale.


Thanks for reading, Cheers!