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This will demonstrate how to convert a college dorm room double into two singles. For those who are unfamiliar with the term double, this refers to a single room occupied by two people. Whether you hate your roommate or just enjoy a quiet and isolated space to yourself this guide will explain all that is needed in order to split the room in half.



This project should be done at the beginning of the new school year.

The duration of this project is completely dependent on how large of a wall you need.

KEEP IN MIND, you will PROBABLY need to drill at least one hole into your wall. Do what you have to, to avoid making the holes too noticeable. In other words... PREDICT damage that may be seen at the end of the year, hint hint. My wooden frame uses about THREE wall holes.

Why: Your roommate smells. Your roommate is noisy. You have a girlfriend. You don't have a girlfriend. Your 21 and think it's unreasonable that your University does not provide adequate housing... you would understand if you knew what we paid per month.

Everything seen in this guide can be found at lowes/home depot... I'm sure you could also supplement some of the items used for hardware found at local stores.

The wall is also really sturdy, but I think I used the bare minimum in order to accomplish this.

Cost:
Without tools: $120,
With tools: Roughly $50

This project will reduce noise by about 70% and eliminate all light... mostly.

** Also, you should probably get your roommates permission.

*** The entire project took about 5 hours to complete.

**** There was no glue or joint compound used in this project, it is fairly clean and straight forward.

***** If you are concerned that your room may spontaneously combust, this project will probably facilitate the burning process.

*******This project may violate the terms of your dorm agreement, it also may not be approved by governing fire officials. Build at your own risk.

 
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dragonvpm5 years ago
I really like how you worked this out, but keep in mind that this wall becomes a major fire hazard. Not only because it splits one side of the room from the smoke detector but the wall itself is also extremely flammable. In normal construction a wall constructed with 2 layers of 1/2" drywall and the associated joint compound are fireproof for about 60 minutes during a fire, in this case, the wall itself becomes a significant source of combustible material and it would also cut off access to one of your emergency exits in a room. If you do something like this try to be careful about where windows (if they're considered one of your emergency exits) and fire sprinklers end up. I know fire safety isn't a fun thing to think about, but in a communal living environment like a dorm it's an important consideration.
You're wrong. Dry wall and wood is not extremely flammable. Yes it is more flammable than a concrete dorm wall and in a building you want to have walls which limit the spread of fire but they could have had a book shelf there or some desks covered in papers or a shelf with a liquor bottles on it. OMG! liquor bottles! fire danger!!! rules violation!! The room itself is still as fire proof as it was before. This will have no impact on the spread of a fire since it is less flammable that most of the things that would be there. The wall doesn't really block anything since it could be punched through or knocked down if there is a fire.
He specifically remarks about stapling cloth to the surface of the wall instead of using joint compound and paint. Last time I checked cloth is fairly significantly combustible.... Then there are the standard emergency exit considerations that I mentioned in a subsequent comment. A trivial example of how easily this could work out badly is if you're working with a room where one person ends up without a door or a window and behind that partition. If there should ever be a fire and the sheet stapled to the wall catches fire, the person sleeping in the walled off room could be in a lot of danger. Fire safety isn't just about burning but smoke inhalation and toxic fumes from things in the room burning. iirc a significant percentage of fire related deaths have nothing to do with actually getting burned. So yeah, I just do this for a living as a builder/engineer, build whatever the hell you want in your dorm room and assume whatever liability you want if you inadvertently create a fire hazard in the room. I really don't care.

The bed and sheets are significantly more flammable than any of the materials listed. And heaven forbid you have a mattress topper.

This project actually calls for attaching fabric to the wall in order to avoid having to tape, mud, and paint it. So at least some of the materials are as flammable as your examples.

More problematically though is that this is being aimed at dorm rooms where two people are living and the author stubbornly refuses to acknowledge some of the basic issues that both people should be aware of and be able to look at before building this wall. It's honestly a good idea and a great example of what you might do in an apartment or a house, but it could be incredibly dangerous if it's not placed in a safe location. He sarcastically refers to a fear of "spontaneous combustion" as a childish response to the concerns brought up in other comments and that's unfortunate.

As someone who has worked in engineering and construction for quite some time, I can honestly tell you, based on my professional experience, that this sort of project could be dangerous if the people building it don't know that they need to pay attention to things like egress, smoke alarms, sprinkler systems, etc... What's worse, each and every project has it's own considerations and things to look out for and what works well in one project might not work at all in another. The real danger presented by a project like this isn't that it would burst into flames itself (although with fabric on top it could catch fire much more easily than drywall alone would) but that it might block someone's ability to escape in the event of a fire.

Furthermore, if someone builds this in a dorm, there is a decent possibility that they could get in some (possibly major and expensive) trouble because of how dangerous this can be. It might be built in a first floor double where one half has a door and the other has a window and someone could still be expelled because the powers that be at their university became aware of it and judged that it was a safety issue because it blocked a smoke alarm or fire sprinklers. Dorms (and universities in general) are becoming stricter and stricter when it comes to fire & life safety, and ADA issues (often as a result of accidents or problems) and it wouldn't be all that hard to imagine that what someone might have built 5+ years ago might be less and less feasible as time goes on. Heck, now, I would also caution about how this might impact a person with disabilities being able to access the walled off portion of a room.

Ultimately dorm rooms are a strange creature that we all tend to treat as our own private, inviolate spaces but they're part of a University system that has to treat them as a something like an office building that meets a whole slew of safety and access regulations. From a "getting in trouble w/o having a fire" perspective this project might work great in an apartment with a lenient landlord or in a house with parents/family, but not paying attention to the safety issues inherent in it make it very possible that this project could be a significant danger and I wish the author had been willing to think about those issues and incorporate them into his Instructable.

Romado12187 (author)  dragonvpm5 months ago

Here is an itemized list of items that are more dangerous, and more commonly found in a dorm room:

1. Candles.

2. Irons.

3. Hair Irons.

4. Bongs, and other smoking paraphernalia.

5. 8 week old Chinese food.

This wall can be broken down with a strong push, it's designed to stop annoying noises such as:

1. A roomate flogging his girlfriend.

2. A roommate listening to Jarule at 3 am.

3. A roommate typing on his computer until the early morning.

4. A roommate using his hand instead of his girlfriend.

5. A roommate who snores.

-------

Violating Building Code: $1,000

Violating Fire Marshall Code: $1,500

Finding a post you commented on 5 years ago and spending 15 minutes writing an overly aggressive comment: Priceless.

Why this is so hard for you to understand? Unless you're a hoarder, EVERY single item that you mention will not obstruct your ability to get out of a room in the event of a fire or other emergency. A candle won't prevent you from hearing a smoke alarm (thereby making it possible that someone might sleep through enough of a fire to die of smoke inhalation) and various roommate related noises can't keep fire sprinklers from reaching a size-able portion of a room (which most new dorms have in every single occupied room). You're effectively turning one room into two and a large number of fire and life safety components are allocated on a room by room basis so this can be a problem if you leave each half of the room without all the protections it's supposed to have.

You make the observation that the wall can be broken down with a strong push, but you also mention putting in some screws and wedging the wall in place. What if someone wedges it in place such that they can push it out from one direction and not the other? What if the fabric covering the wall is on fire? What if your roommate put something big and heavy against the wall so you can't push it down? Or what if someone smaller and weaker than you is in that other space and just doesn't have the strength to push it down? I think you're right, that wall will stop all those things that you intended it to do and that's excellent. I could easily see thinking about building something like that in an apartment (especially one where a landlord was understanding or just didn't care) like a one bedroom or studio situation where a couple could be sleeping on one side of the partition and keeping TVs/computers/etc... on the other At no point have I ever thought that your idea was bad, but there are several big and small legal and safety issues that come into play especially if it's used in a dorm room.

Your misuse of the tired old credit card trope implies that I just happened to randomly decide to comment here again. Apparently, you don't understand how comments work because I was replying to a comment that I received on this Instructable recently. Instructables has a neat option where I can click a box and my email magically notifies me when someone responds to a comment I made. I happened to receive one of those notifications a few days ago, I mulled it over for a bit and decided to chime in again. In the intervening 5 years I've actually had occasion to inspect houses that have had fires and talk to fire fighters who dealt with those fires and I'm not joking about the potential danger that an Instructable like this can pose to someone who isn't an engineer or somehow involved in construction or building (which could easily include a couple of 18 year old college kids). No it's not dangerous to everyone and most likely no one who actually bothers to build this will ever have a problem, but it can be a danger and it can cause someone a good bit of grief if they build it without being aware of some of the possible, non-trivial problems they could run into.

If my previous comment was overly aggressive and hurt your feelings then I apologize, but most of your comments to this Instructable have been overly defensive and I don't understand why or why the best you can do to respond within the Instructable is a single snide comment about spontaneous combustion. I've never once said that this is a badly written or even bad Instructable. I think it can be very useful for someone who needs/wants to accomplish this with a room, but especially since it's aimed at people in dorms I think it's unfortunate that you've dug in your heels to such a degree that even now, 5 years later, you spend 15 minutes coming up with a stupid list of things that do NOT compare to building a wall in your room (unless you eat a truly epic amount of Chinese food).

Romado12187 (author)  dragonvpm5 years ago
Look, it’s not that it’s not a legitimate concern... It's just that if there was no wall... there would be clothing and other college like paraphernalia in the middle of the room... So yes, just looking at this, it seems that it is a fire hazard. But when you take into consideration the small things in a college dorm room like... clothing, alcohol, and other flammable materials, it is not a very big deal. I don't even want to think about the wall catching on fire... if any room is divided in half, it is always a risk... especially if there is no exit on one side. There are two fire detectors though, and quite honestly as seniors in college, the small increase in lack of safety in a dorm room, is a price we are willing to take. I am an engineer/builder also... and the safety factor of this wall is not decreased to the point of not wanting to construct it. Everything and anything added to room, minus some obvious items is a fire hazzard. But yes, this is a fire hazzard, it's just a matter of pros and cons.
I didn't mean to make you feel like I was attacking you, but your wall is nothing like "clothing and other college like paraphernalia in the middle of the room". By it's very design, it's meant to completely block access (of light and sound) from one part of a room to another. During a fire, this could be very dangerous either through delaying the time before an smoke alarm goes off or blocking the spray of fire sprinklers or just preventing someone from getting out.

However, you're right it is a matter of looking at pros and cons and if the Instructable was aimed at just you putting it up in your house, I'd tend to be less concerned about fire safety issues, but you're specifically aiming this at people living in doubles in dorms and I thought it was something worth mentioning so that both people living in a room could consider if this was the sort of thing they might want to build.

I can respect that as a builder/engineer yourself you can feel that the pros outweigh the cons, but something like this could be built by someone with less skill or expertise and it might be worth discussing how they could go about selecting a location for the wall that is as safe as possible while still being useful as a room divider. Or, it might be worth noting ways in which they could make this project safer. Things like making sure that there is a smoke detector on either side of the partition and possibly installing a battery powered one (they're ridiculously cheap) on one side if necessary, perhaps having a fire extinguisher in the side of the room without an exit, etc... etc...

While it is true that everything in a room can be a fire hazard, this partition could conceivably be a major enough fire hazard and obstruction that IMO it's worth looking at the safety issues more closely than you might look at how dangerous your books and class notes might be. Plus consider that in a dorm setting there could be liability issues for students and parents (beyond the safety issues) should a fire ever happen.
1+ on everything dragonvpm said, that wall is clearly a fire hazard inaddition to being a code violation.
code violations are irrelevant
Why? Because you say so? A fire marshal would disagree...
fire marshals are irrelevant.  this is instructables not should-I-do-this?-ables.  that giant trebuchet might be awesome fun or a murder weapon.  people can make up their own minds about how to use something, and they don't need you to help them.
No, it is not irrelevant. The difference here is this instructable is showing how to create a fire hazard on property that you do not own. If you make a trebuchet in your backyard and use it properly you aren't harming anyone, however this has the potential to harm his roommate. Now, I never said people SHOULDN'T do this, but the simple fact of the matter is: It IS a code violation. Just because you say "oh it doesn't matter" doesn't make it any less of a code violation.

If he is going to violate building codes he should at least make that much clear in his instructables because other people WILL do this, and without that knowledge they could find themselves in a mess with both their university and city codes council/fire marshal.
The instructable is about putting a new, temporary wall into a little room, the dorm room aspect, and whether this guy owns that building or not is tangential. You never explained why fire marshals are relevant.  Lots of legal things are dangerous and lots of illegal things are safe.  If one focuses on safety then you will be much safer than if one focuses on what the guys with the guns say you can do or not.     

Laws and rules are different everywhere.  Putting in legal warnings would be a huge waste of time.

In the United States, where he did this, this is a violation of the fire code period. The fire marshal enforces the code. Saying something is illegal "but safe" is not an argument. If it is illegal then one should not do it.

Furthermore, if depending on the university someone doing this could result in expulsion, or in the least a fine.

A simple "check the laws in your area, and the rules of your university before attempting" would be ample warning. Most instructables that feature a dangerous or potentially illegal activity have a warning like this.

In addition, this instructable is about putting a wall into a dorm room. Period. This is clearly stated in the instructable, and there are many mentions of not "drilling too many holes". It is not about dividing a "little room" but a dorm room, the whole tone of the instructable is based around this, saying that this is not relevant is simply ignoring the facts.
Paint is a fire excellerent were as cloth is juse somthing that burns!
Ummm... yeah, no. Look up "accelerant" Certain types of paint in their liquid form are certainly flammable, but dry paint on a wall is not an "accelerant"
This instructable is pretty cool and I regret not thinking of this when I lived in my old dorm room but I agree with dragonvpm in his concerns. I would be interested to see what your campus fire marshal (or equivalent) would say about this. There was a rule at my college that 2/3 of the door had to be free from decorations in case of fire and I would assume there are similar unnecessary rules at other colleges.
stop pooping on everyone's parade. Yes its dangerous, there is many things far more dangerous going on in college doorms anyways. you comment on a poorly constructed wall by college students in a doorm is as valid as you telling a illegal marihuana grower the excess lights and power cables pose a fire hazard to the underground basement.
"stop pooping on everyone's parade"

What are you, five?

Try reading my comments a little more closely. I repeatedly mention that this is a well built wall, but that since this is being aimed at people in a dorm, it would be good to look at safety issues for BOTH people living in the double so that they can both consider the pros and cons before undertaking the project.
If cloth is so combustible then why do you wrap it around your body everyday? And then people let you into their buildings? Aren't you a fire hazard? You being an engineer doesn't automatically mean that you are right.
Ummmm if you don't know why we wrap cloth around ourselves (when necessary) I don't think this is the proper forum for explaining it to you.

For purposes of fire safety in buildings though, it's not just that the cloth is flammable but that if you cover the partition in cloth and the partition should catch fire, it can present what is in effect a burning solid object which could prevent a person from getting away from the area quickly. Even if a person doesn't get burned, the gases produced from burning items in a home (or dorm) are often extremely toxic and they can quickly overcome someone before the wall could "be punched through or knocked down if there is a fire"

You being an engineer doesn't automatically mean that you are right.

Thank you Captain Obvious, now try looking up some information on fire safety as it pertains to buildings and obstructions and tell me why I'm wrong. I'm fully aware that I might make a mistake and if you can make a valid argument for why my comments about emergency exits etc.... are invalid I'll be happy to take them back, but arguing that a few bottles of booze or a pile of dirty clothes or even a bookcase up against a wall is the same type of fire hazard (specifically an obstruction) as a partition that effectively covers every square inch of an opening and could conceivably be engulfed in flames even as it's screwed into the walls surrounding it (making it not trivial for the average person to get through) is asinine.
Romado12187 (author)  lampajoo5 years ago
It is refreshing to know, that at least there are some people out there who still use their noggin...
... and I hope anyone who decides to build this uses theirs and isn't as quick to take offense over legitimate concerns. If you're so sure your wall is so safe, why don't you have the fire marshal come out and take a look at it and see what he thinks.
You are trying to win an argument by appealing to authority(engineer, fire marshal) instead of logic and reason.
No, I made logical arguments which you proceeded to ignore and not address.
Romado12187 (author)  dragonvpm5 years ago
Everything and anything is a fire hazard. The wall is in the middle of the room... away from EVERY outlet... and away from any electrical appliance. IF the wall was the first thing to catch on fire... which i'd rather not think about... there would probably be a problem... just as there would be in ANY dorm room that has ANYTHING in it... any small space occupied by two people containing anything is a fire hazard. While the wall obviously increases the danger in my room, it is completely worth it. Telling me that it is a fire hazard is just insulting... It was an obvious thought in the building process.
The comment was not meant to be rude to YOU, it was meant as something that EVERYONE else should consider if they decide to use this Instructable to build something similar. Look back at your Instructable, you did not mention the location of outlets, lights, or any other fire safety considerations. You claim that it's obvious that it increases the danger in your room, and maybe it is to you, but you don't bother to mention this in the instructable so someone else might look at this and build this kind of wall in such a way that it's up against an outlet, or a light, or maybe they build it close to where their roommate keeps a hotplate etc... etc... What happens if you have a fire in the half of the room that is no longer protected by the smoke detector (which is clearly shown on the outside of the wall in your pictures)? You did a great job of making the wall light and sound resistant, but what will that do in the event of smoke? Does the room have fire sprinklers? Does the wall affect their coverage area? Do you have a window in there? Would you be able to open it for either escape or ventilation and to signal for help in the event of an emergency? Like I said, I like how you did this, but part of making this a good Instructable is putting up details of how you took into account safety issues. Your Instructable does a good job of providing a nearly construction quality room improvement without being permanent and that's cool, but don't get bent out of shape because I pointed out some things that could matter in selecting where someone else might put up their own wall.
thanks dad.
You're welcome junior.
Romado12187 (author)  dragonvpm5 years ago
okay, I will mention it.
kiafayce3 years ago
I wish I could do something like this. Unfortunately, the building owner doesn't want us putting any screws into the walls or any kind of construction project in our rooms...

It's extremely problematic when we bring guys back to the dorm. :/
when i was in college we built a nice structure that went concrete wall to concrete wall and held it in place by hammering wooden wedges between the wood and the wall- it held well enough for us swing from our new rafters, from which we hung beds, leaving the original bed area clear for living space. make your structure, whatever it is, strong and slightly narrower than your room, and a wedge or three will hold it in place with no screws at all
bennettcrew3 years ago
3M Command Adhesive products. The strips work with all sorts of things. They're just adhesive on both sides... you don't really need to buy the hooks. However... The hooks are super awesome, and will hold quite a bit of weight. The wife and I lived in "married student housing", with the block walls and such... and I never did figure out a way to keep from hearing her!! hahahahahahahahahaha... Seriously though, those 3M strips would have been a lifesaver!

As for a room divider... try 7 men to a room, for a year! Military deployment life sucks, but it will definitely bring out the most creative solutions, for any situation imaginable! I've seen curtain dividers, lockers for dividers, storage containers, all sorts of things used to just have a little bit of privacy. If this sort of thing is really a problem for anyone... stay out of prison!
kevinhannan5 years ago
This is truly a great 'ible, well done! ;-)

Having recently come out of student accommodation, room-checks are done randomly, without warning and very frequently. This kind of thing would have resulted in a large repair bill as the accommodation office would insist on removing the offending installation as well as putting good any damage. My Uni also has a policy of withholding any degree awards if there are any outstanding issues like this.

I had to share with three Kenyan guys,each of whom brought their families with them (illegally housed in the student accommodation). In order to reduce the noise and increase the privacy we put in those free-standing office screens, that can also house doors and windows if desired. (see image).

We did this so it reached from floor to ceiling and the metal legs were stout enough to take the strain (besides which we put bookcases against it each side).

But let me emphasise - this is a great 'ible - and not just for the scenario you describe - all I wanted to do was show an entirely damage-free and removeable solution.

partition.jpg
yeah, I'd think that putting holes in the wall would have reprecussions. I agree though, good instructable.
Heh, at my college it's completely illegal and results in expulsion, removal of credits from the records, or massive fines. Admittedly, I can see where they're coming from - something like this is a fire hazard in many cases. kevinhannan's idea would be a great alternative for stricter universities.
Romado12187 (author)  valhallas_end5 years ago
no.
I dunno dude, unless your at university outside the US. Colleges have to abide by very strict fire and life safety codes, like Valahallas said. The rooms are designed with those codes in mind, which is why the only flammable thing in your dorm room is usually just your stuff (also why theyre remodeled so frequently). you know how govt organizations are with the voters kids. "think of the children" LOL (yes i know your an adult, but they still think of you as the kids.) I would bet $$$ on this being an issue with university housing at any US university, and if you havn't checked already you should. Another thing is that for a construction company to do as little as nail a board to the wall at a school (state run or not), they have have to be licensed, bonded, and insured for insurance liability reasons. I know this for a fact, as i have been the construction industry for over a decade. I would think that if they had to go through that, the school wouldn't let joe schmoe student even look at a hammer/drill in the building. not calling you a schmoe, but u get the picture.
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