View Full Version : Workshop walls

Robert Johnstone
02-28-2005, 11:11 AM
Hello the Creek. My workshop is spacious (20X22) and well equipped but has a major flaw. It is bare studs with no insulation. I live in Florida so my problem is in the summer, not the winter. I do most of my woodworking October through March because of the heat. Without insulation it is prohibitive to aircondition, or heat for that matter.

Robert Johnstone
02-28-2005, 11:26 AM
Sorry. I hit the wrong button and posted prematurely. Continuing, even though it will mean considerable work I am thinking about adding insulation and walls. Since this will mean removing all my fixtures, shelving, pegboard, tools, etc., I will probably do it one wall at a time. I do not want to use sheetrock. I am considering using tongue & groove plywood flooring painted white. This will allow me to reattach everything and add new fixtures easily without locating studs. Is there another product out there more suitable and possibly cheaper? What are possible pitfalls I might encounter? Thanks.

Jim Becker
02-28-2005, 11:30 AM
Insulation is probably the most cost effective upgrade you can make to a home...or a workshop for both summer and winter where such things apply. Even though my shop doesn't have heat other than what I turn on when I'm working there, the insulation has made a noticable difference in how cold it gets during the week...and how warm it gets during the summer when the A/C is off.

Insulate your walls and then cover with drywall, OSB, plywood or whatever your choice is. For Florida, your vapor barrier goes to the outside, rather than the inside like it does up here in the north. And don't forget "above"...a tremendous amount of heat is transfered into your shop via the roof, so the ceiling needs to be insulated, too. Your A/C will work much more quickly and efficiently and even those days when the air is nice enough to open doors and windows, but the sun is hot will be more comfortable in the shop.

Kent Parker
02-28-2005, 11:39 AM

I installed an exhaust fan at the peak of my shop. Its about two feet in diameter. Makes a huge difference by getting rid of all the hot air in the upper portion (peak) of my shop. Has a thermostat so goes on automatically. I got it at Graingers. Do a search on their web site, they must have 40 or more. Nice addition, would be hard for me to work in my shop without it. It has the added benefit of sucking out lots of air born dust.



John Weber
02-28-2005, 11:45 AM
Great tips, both insulating and a power vent have really helped keep my shop warmer in the Winter and cooler in the summer. I like t&g pine boards for shop walls, but that is just me.



Robert Johnstone
02-28-2005, 12:05 PM
Good ideas all. An exhaust van would be fairly easy and would begin helping as soon as it turns hot. The t&g pine is beautiful.

Ted Shrader
02-28-2005, 12:20 PM
Robert -

Insulation will make a huge difference. I can also understand your reluctance to doing sheetrock. It is, however, fairly economical (but labor intensive).

As you indicated, white is a great color. Really helps with the light. You can get some "oops" paint - significant $$ savings - at the big box stores that is off-white (but the wrong color for the original customer) to paint whatever ends up on the walls.

The vent fan is a great idea. Get rid of the heat in the attic before it come down to you.


John Bush
02-28-2005, 12:25 PM
I can't seem to get a message thru. Testing!!

Doug Shepard
02-28-2005, 12:26 PM

I installed an exhaust fan at the peak of my shop. Its about two feet in diameter. Makes a huge difference by getting rid of all the hot air in the upper portion (peak) of my shop. Has a thermostat so goes on automatically. I got it at Graingers. Do a search on their web site, they must have 40 or more. Nice addition, would be hard for me to work in my shop without it. It has the added benefit of sucking out lots of air born dust.


I agree - they make a lot of difference. If you can add a window fan or place a stand type fan near an open window you can get even better cooling. The combination with the roof fan will set up a good airflow constantly moving through the shop.

Lee Schierer
02-28-2005, 12:32 PM
I concur with the previous posts regarding insulation. On a Hometime program, they did a basement hobby area and a garage with a paneling that had horizontal grooves cut in it. The grooves could be used for hooks, racks etc like pegboard. I forget what they called it, but itw as pretty handy looking and didn't require the seams to be taped like dry wall. I imagine the material price will be more than drywall though.


John Bush
02-28-2005, 12:40 PM
Hi Robewrt,
Hopefully this posts. (3rd try)
I built a free-standing(1560sqft-2 level) shop and used slot wall for the vertical surfaces. Drywall is cheap but the time involved to finish it and the additional need for hanging surfaces like pegboard made me look for another solution. I was able to get the slot wall for ~$9.00 per and ultimately used 25 4'X8' sheets.
I was able to put most on by myself, but at ~90# holding the sheets at the gable ends while trying to screw in place was a bit tough. I used old barn beams both structurally and architecturally and the vertical lines mimmic old corn cribs from my days on the farm in the midwest, so it is a good design match for me as well. I can rearrange/reoranize at will and I can display antique stuff in view but out of the way. I kept the buff MDF color but the material accepts paint well for a brighter more reflective surface. If I knew how to send pics. I would. Good luck, John.

Robert Johnstone
02-28-2005, 12:53 PM
Thanks John. I'll look into the slot board. I saw it on Hometime or This Old House; looked good. I wonder if it comes in white? Would save a lot of time. And, yes, if I knew how to post pictures I would also. I'll learn tommorrow.

John Bush
02-28-2005, 12:53 PM
Hi Lee,
You saw them using the slot wall I discussed in my previous post. It is used mostly for commercial/retail applications and my disclaimer is I was able to get it at the local plant that mills the slots in the full MDF sheets. They had "seconds" but I couldn't see any flaws in the sheets I got. These are heavy and after loading 25 sheets into my trailer I spent 3 hrs. swerving home on the usual 45min. trip because of overload. I had to take back streets all the way home. Also, there is a display fixture supplier here that has boxess of used hangers very reasonably priced.
I applied the sheets over the insulation and the vapor barrier and the shop stays comfortable in all seasons. I have in-slab hot water heat and the summers don't get too hot here so tempurature extremes aren't an issue. Good luck, John.

Roger Fitzsimonds
02-28-2005, 1:28 PM
Hi Robert,

When I insulated the walls of my shop (16x24) I covered the insulation with pegboard on the top half and chip board on the bottom. which gives me plenty of storage on the peg board. I didnt paint is as the chip board is very light colored any how. I was fairly inexpensive also.

I live north of Atlanta and was amazed the difference in summer and winter with the insulation.

Good Luck


Darren Ford
02-28-2005, 2:38 PM
John Weber,

Really, really nice shop. Do you have any more photos ?

Cecil Arnold
02-28-2005, 2:46 PM
You might want to consider a radient barrier in Fla. especally if you don't have any trees shading the roof and some walls.

Dave Right
02-28-2005, 3:33 PM
Before you insulate and cover the walls, it be a great time to run more elec outlets. Whether you think you need them or not, you will find out how handy those extra one will be.

Maurice Ungaro
02-28-2005, 4:02 PM
Good point Dave - I should be able to move into my shop within the next month, and am leaving the insulation and interior wall surface off. By the 1st of April in Atlanta, it's ideal shop conditions, and I won't need insulation. My purpose (other than we blew a lot of money on this construction so far) is that I want to use my shop for a while, and figure out what additional electrical service I want to wire in BEFORE I cover the walls.


Ron Jones near Indy
02-28-2005, 6:16 PM
I don't know about your area, but here I had to drywall to meet insurance regs and building codes. I could, however, put ply over the drywall. Advantage is fire safety. And the drywall didn't have to be sanded.

Tony Falotico
02-28-2005, 6:18 PM
I ran four extra 220V single receptacle circuits w/10 gage wire around the shop before I closed the walls. Wire terminates in the box with a solid cover, other end in the panel box but are not connected to breakers yet. May never need 'em, but they are there IF ...... (and I can always make 'em 120V if I want / need)

Chris Padilla
02-28-2005, 7:04 PM
I am wrapping up my garage gut and I did have it all redrywalled/taped/mudded. It is necessary for codes out here...especially when the garage shares walls with living space. All of it was 5/8" type-X (firerated).

I also insulated everything I could. For that pesky annoyance of "having to located a stud" you might consider putting 3/4" or 1/2" plywood between the studs at key areas (or everywhere). If you use pocket screws, they go up pretty easily. Use a nail gun to put in strips of wood to so you can only put the plywood in a certain depth...this avoids shoving it in too far and having to work it back out.

It'll take some time to cut the sheets and as we know, walls aren't straight so having a handplane handy to trim or a long guide for a circular saw to cut tapers makes things go a bit easier. A nice handsaw will make quick notches as will a good jigsaw.

Run additional outlets, put in insulation, slap up plywood in-between the studs, drywall/mud/tape/paint semi-gloss arylic latex white and you're done. There, one sentence; easy as pie! :)

Curt Putnam
03-01-2005, 4:29 AM
Thanks John. I'll look into the slot board. I saw it on Hometime or This Old House; looked good. I wonder if it comes in white? Would save a lot of time. And, yes, if I knew how to post pictures I would also. I'll learn tommorrow.
Around here, it is called slat wall and runs about $35 per 4 x 8 sheet for really lousy MDF with a printed veneer. You need someone to help hang it as the sheets run about 85 - 100 lbs. If you are going to put it down to the floor, just make sure that you start at the high spot so all the slats line up. Once up, it looks very finished and gives you horizontal freedom to locate hooks wherever (unlike pegboard.)

03-01-2005, 2:00 PM
I am planning on building a 30x30 detached this summer and am considering this same option. Assuming the cost of 4'x8' 1/2" sheetrock vs. 7/16"OSB is $5.00 vs $13.00 respectively, the cost difference is $300 vs. $800. This amounts to a 3% cost increase on a $16,000 building. Cost of paint, mud/tape, etc. is not included.

In the shop I built at my last house, I used OSB painted white. I may be leaning towards sheetrock in this one. At least on the ceiling and walls which will be covered with cabinets. I will definitely look into the slot board idea.

If I used sheetrock, I will draw a line on the sheetrock from ceiling to floor over the stud. This should eliminate searching at a later date. I told my wife I wanted to do that in our house, but she vetoed the striped look.

John Weber
03-01-2005, 2:59 PM

Here is an old photo before I did the walls, floor, and ceiling:


Here is a pic after most of the work was done, maybe 2/3 years ago:


And here is another closer to what the shop looks like today (the photo is from last year I think)


With heat (about 45 degrees) in the Winter and good cross breeze in the Summer, it's a very enjoyable place to spend time.


Jim Fancher
03-01-2005, 3:55 PM
What you are probably thinking about is slatwall. It's 4' x 8' sheets of MDF with t-slots grooved on 3" centers. I'd get the paint grade and paint it white. I'm considering it for a how-to project for my website.

If you plan on using the slots for anything really heavy, there are milled aluminum inserts available. I personally wouldn't bother. I'd build a special shelf for the items.

There are plastic versions of slatwall available, but you're looking at a minimum of 4 times the cost over MDF. They work great in a garage too.

Darren Ford
03-01-2005, 6:48 PM
John, I love that shop. It looks warm, inviting, and relaxing. (Not to mention efficient and clean!).

Painted concrete floor right?

John Weber
03-01-2005, 7:11 PM

Thank you! Yes, the floor has a two part epoxy finish, so far it has held up very well and only has a little fading. I love the windows, basically on all 4 sides, although one looks into the garage (the shop part was added on in or around the 60's). The biggest drawback is it is small about 14'x21', so it gets tight fast. Maybe someday I can add on a bit. We moved to our home in 1996, and I've been working on it since. First major task was a 100 amp panel and lots of electrical, then a little here and there. I could not afford to do the walls early on, so they were just insulation batts. Removing everything to hang the pine was a pain, but I'm very glad I did it. The ceiling was plain 1/4" plywood, so after I did the walls, I HAD to do the floor (40 years of concrete stains), and ceilings, then a new garage door, beef up the 2x4 ceiling joist with 2x6 and add an attic floor for some storage, storm door, storm windows, electrical baseboard heat, etc... You know how it goes...

Thanks again - John

Stephen Dixon
03-01-2005, 7:44 PM
I used the tongue and groove floor/deck ply for my walls. I painted them white, and used nails and/or screws to hold my tools. I think it is a good solution in a shop.


Darren Ford
03-01-2005, 9:05 PM
John, the space (or lack thereof) is part of the beauty. I really enjoyed seeing how organized you are, and how much you can pack into that space. I'm on a downsizing kick myself, not much I can do about it right now except to look around me and see that we have way more living space than we really need, and are therefore heating more than we need, paying more than we need, and our junk expands to fill all available space. Shops like yours provide much needed inspiration for me. Its refreshing to see that *it can be done*.

Jerry Olexa
03-01-2005, 11:56 PM
John, that is a fine looking, warm and comfortable shop! Your efforts were worth it. Makes u want to go there and start another project...