How To Build A Closet
Well, we know that the caveman didn’t need much storage space — historians say he wore his loin cloth until it needed replacement. And once replaced, what was left of the old outfit was used as kindling. Cavewoman, on the other hand, did have several shelves notched into the walls of the cave that were used especially for storage of her shoes, purses, jewelry and the like. Times really haven’t changed much, except that today’s women are better dressed and they need more shelves. When is there ever enough storage space?!?
In our remodeling company — whether we are doing a room addition, a bath or kitchen remodel or just making general changes, the most common of all requests — from both men and women — is more storage space. You name it, closet organizers, more closets, more shelving, bigger closets.
Adding a closet is not so impossible, and it definitely is less expensive than most good quality pieces of furniture — if you build it yourself. Before proceeding with construction, stack empty cardboard boxes where the closet will be, redecorate the room to its new size and live with it for a few days to see if you have made a good decision.
A closet is nothing more than four walls and a door. But, when you think about it, building a closet into the corner of an existing room can be as simple as adding just two walls and a door. As a matter of fact, if you like the idea of using floor-to-ceiling sliding wardrobe doors then the task would involve the construction of only one wall and no door opening.
Floor-to-ceiling wardrobe doors have many advantages. They are inexpensive, easy to install and allow full access to the storage area that they enclose. But, be careful not to change the character of your home by thoughtlessly altering closet door styles from room to room. Closet doors in the master bedroom must match each other, but don’t have to match the doors to the closets in secondary bedrooms. Closets in secondary bedrooms should match each other. Hall and kitchen closet door styles can be different from one another and different from other areas of the home. Remember, really old homes didn’t have built in closets, so in these situations it is better if the opening to a newly built closet be the same as the door at the room’s entry. As a matter of fact, when homes first begin to boast built-in closets the doors matched the room’s entry door.
Purchasing the door is the first step in building a closet. If you are a “died-in-the-wool hard-core do-it-yourselfer” (DHD) you can make the door and frame yourself. However, our advise is to purchase the door and frame “ready-made and pre-assembled” ($MART). A pre-hung door can be purchased for as little as forty dollars.
In our example we will be using 2×4’s at sixteen-inch intervals to build the wall frames. Also, our example will have two walls and a door opening. After the door size has been determined it can be used to lay out the wall locations on the floor. Tape or other non-permanent methods should be used to locate and mark the length and depth of the closet onto the floor. Remember: the interior of the closet (after wallboard has been applied) should be at least two-feet deep. Length will depend on how much room is available.
With the layout of the front and end walls marked, attach a 2×4 flat on the floor to make up the bottom plate. Three pieces of bottom plate will be needed: one on either side of the door opening and one for the end wall. Leave about three-fourths of an inch of shim space on either side of the door at the opening on the floor.
Next, the two vertical 2×4’s that will go against the existing walls should be installed. Toe nail each the top and bottom ends of the two vertical pieces into the top and bottom plates of the existing walls. Use a level to insure that the wall connections are plumb. If the vertical pieces do not align with an existing stud use toggle bolts to connect the uprights to the wallboard. Next, attach the front and end top plates to the ceiling (no cut-out for the door is required here).
With the top and bottom plates in place the uprights can be added. The uprights should fit firmly into place, but it is important not to force them. Use three toe nails at the end of each upright into the adjacent top and bottom plates. As the walls are constructed make sure that the corner framing provides wallboard backing at the inside and outside. Last, but not least, a horizontal piece should be added to reduce the size of the door opening to the proper height — about three-fourths of an inch above the top of the door frame.
With the frame complete all that is left is to install, finish and paint the wallboard and the door and any moldings needed to match the room (i.e. baseboard, chair rail, etc.). Although cove moldings can be used to hide the joints between the new and existing walls, we suggest that the connections be made with joint tape and taping compound. Most folks can install wallboard as well as the best tradesman. But it might be wise to enlist the services of a drywall finisher to insure an invisible match between new and old.