February 13, 2006


Filed under: analog — mhoye @ 7:12 am

I spent this weekend putting up shelving and doing home-renovationy things for Arlene’s family, and I’ve got some questions for the world. Number one, are wood-frames “out” now, as far as building materials go?

Their place is a recently-built condo, and as far as I can tell all the walls in their place are drywall over a light metal frame, or drywall over concrete. There doesn’t seem to be any of the wood frame, studs-every-sixteen-inches construction that I’m used to working with.

It’s slightly worrying for me to install shelving into drywall without being able to bolt it into a wall stud. Saddening, it’s pretty much completely impossible to fasten stuff to any surface that isn’t an inside wall – side walls are a half-inch sheet of drywall over hard concrete, no purchase there – and on inside walls things are just hooked into the drywall with those little plastic shims. It’ll stay, no worries, but it’d still be nice to know that the whole thing was screwed into a board, rather than just hanging off the drywall.


  1. This is the sort of thing that really makes those of you on t’other side of the atlantic feel alien.

    Over here in blighty, just about every building I’ve lived in, almost every wall (including most of the internal ones) has been solid brick. I wanna hang something, I get out the masonry drill and bang a 40mm screw in. Until I decide I want to suspend an elephant from the wall, I think I’m sorted (and my girlfriend would probably make sarky comments about some of our bookshelves being sufficiently over-specified to handle pachyderms at this point).

    Comment by blufive — February 13, 2006 @ 3:35 pm

  2. Well, the upside to Our Way Of Doing Thigns is that it’s crazy fast and very economical to put up. The downside is that it’s also crazy fast to tear down. The practical upshot of this is, I think, that building stuff that’s trendy is preferred over building stuff that’s durable. It’s a lot easier to work with, but it’s also not something that leads itself to enduring works, or even the inclination to create something worth enduring.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 13, 2006 @ 4:05 pm

  3. Paging Paul Graham to the living room…

    Comment by Gnomon — February 14, 2006 @ 9:06 pm

  4. Fucking Paul Graham! If someone told me only that Paul Graham espoused an opinion, I’d instantly believe that the opposite was correct.

    Anyway, there are tons of very sensible reason to build with wood frame instead of brick (it gives you some place to put the plumbing and wiring, it’s less deadly in an earthquake, it’s easier to mod) in addition to the obvious cost advantage. And if people think it’s uglier than pure brick, I think it’s very likely that their tastes are parochial and out of touch with modernity.

    Comment by Mike Kozlowski — February 14, 2006 @ 11:56 pm

  5. Well, “less deadly in an earthquake” is a sensible concern in about five percent of the North American landscape, which I’d guess would be roughly the same number of places “more deadly in a tornado/hurricane” would also apply.

    Brick both lasts a long time and ages well. Vinyl and aluminum siding, not so much. Of course, we’re having two different discussions here if we’re talking about the inside versus the outside shell of the house.

    And, in one of them, I’m not talking about wood frames v. brick, I’m talking about wood frames v. light metal frame, which is much less easily to sturdily modify, I’m finding.

    Comment by Mike Hoye — February 15, 2006 @ 7:40 am

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