The New Shop – The Floor is the Ceiling

Something I really want to take care of soon is the attic ladder, but the prerequisite to do so is to have the ceiling in place. So, on Sunday, that’s just what I started on.

I had been trying to decide what material to use for the ceiling for a few days, and on my errand trip on Saturday came across an unexpected contender: 5mm underlayment. It looked really nice, was cheaper than any other option besides drywall, and was really light. The only disadvantage it had would be that I really couldn’t secure anything to it. After thinking about it and comparing it to 7/16″ OSB, I realized that my air cleaner would have to be secured to studs anyway. The lights could be secured partially to studs, so the concern was no longer an issue.

With that decided, my parents were nice enough to meet me at Home Depot to get the five sheets I needed. For some reason, I bought six. I’ll have to get that one back to the store when I buy the ladder. I thought about different ideas to cut them and get them up easier, but what seemed the best idea to me was to cut them in half and have nine panels covering the ceiling. I would work from the back of the shop to the front and do the outside sections and fit the middle panels to exactly what I needed.

I installed the panels with 3/4″ 18ga nails from the air nailer. This was another advantage of going with the 5mm ply. The first panel in the back right went up without issue after cutting to make sure the edge aligned with a rafter. The next one was the back left, which was complicated by needing a hole for the ceiling outlet. I placed the panel up to mark the edges on two sides to coordinate exactly where I needed the hole. It was extremely close to being perfect, I just had to extend one side. Then I measured carefully and cut the third panel to fit in the back middle. All three of these panels overlapped the attic hole by a bit.

The second row went exactly like the first. Albeit with one issue: I had this strange bowing in the middle panel and I tried to fix it with more nails. Even after making a huge mess of it with so many nails, it still bowed. I took the panel down and discovered I forgot to remove two of the light hangers. Those removed, the panel went up fine. It just looks real ugly. Thankfully, when I reinstall the lights they should cover most of it.

I did install one light right above the workbench, and I may go ahead and order another set. Or move it back now that the middle section is installed, the two lights in the middle do seem to do a very good job of providing almost all the light I need. I did find one issue with the lights, the mounting pattern isn’t very intelligent – it requires the screws to be slightly in toward each other, so that one set will go in the holes, and you push to seat them. Only then can the other set enter. In other words, all four screw heads can’t go into the mounting holes at the same time. Annoying, but only slightly. Six panels and one light were done when I called it an early (due to DST ending) night Sunday.

Monday afternoon I took my extra sheet of ply back to the store and picked up my ladder. I followed the instructions to make sure there were no issues, and the first thing I figured out was that I could have done this without the ceiling being in. The way I did it will end up being easier, but the cover for the ladder will end up sticking down slightly, probably about 1/4″.

I placed my son in the attic before I put the ladder in to do the initial screw driving. He did a fine job, and the rest of the frame installation went without too big of a hitch, aside from returning to the store to pick up more shims. The only thing that is disappointing is the cover, which seems to be misaligned. One day I might have to fix that. I followed the instructions again and cut the aluminum legs to the indicated length and applied the leg ends with rubber feet. I sheared a bolt by overtightening, but it was easily replaced with yet another trip to the store. The ladder is solid against the floor and the lag bolts give me comfort at the top.

I had expected that the outswing for the ladder might hit either the systainer storage or the MFT, and I chose for it to hit the latter if so. It does, but at least I can move the MFT to swing it down – I can’t move the systainer cabinet.

I used the window and trim spray foam to seal up three sides, I will have to use a piece of wood or something along the other short side, opposite the hinge. The specs given for the opening is too generous. Other than that though, the ladder is done, and that is where the ceiling was on Tuesday night.

There were three panels left to install and one small batt of insulation, right where the hose comes down for the dust extractor. I need through-wall connections here and on the opposite wall to cleanly collect dust on all my power tools.

I got the fourth side of the ladder opening sealed Thursday evening, and on Friday I finished up the ceiling install. I shoved the dust hose into the attic, and finalized the insulation install. Then the last three plywood panels went up to give me a completed plywood ceiling. I should trim out the outside edges and perhaps the panel edges, but otherwise it’s done for now. I cut out access holes for the air feed and discharge lines, plus the mounting point for the air reel.

The back light is attached flush to the ceiling, but the lights will have to be hung like the one in front here, just really close to the ceiling. The screws will not hold in the 5mm ply adequately enough to flush mount. A minor inconvenience.

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