Roommate Blocker 1.0




About: Rob Douglas
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.

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.

Step 1: Materials and Tools


Drywall is pretty cheap so you should buy about 1.5 times more than you would think to buy.
Enough Wooden studs to build a frame in the are you want to frame off. (The length of your pieces should match up with the height of your ceiling. You also may want to have one long piece going to the door, so keep that in mind when picking wood. I used 1.5"x1"x9'. I think 96" is a standard ceiling size in college dorm rooms.

1xbox of concrete screws,
1xbox of drywall screws, ($6.23 for a 4'x'8'x1/4")
1 twin bed sheet,
1 sliding door kit ($12.99)
1 unmounted door ($19 at lowes... it's pretty light too)
A roll of velcro tape
Foam tape (cover up drill holes and adds sound insulation. It also helps create a seal)
1 inch Copper tube straddle ( this was just a cheap way to make a handle, you can get whatever you'd like)
1 Twin XL fitted sheet ($9.99 target(tar-zhe) )

Miter Box ( for a college dorm room this is essential, the room is too small to use clamps in odd places.)

Step 2: The Run Down

The smaller your room is the easier this project will be. I used a sliding door so that I could minimize the amount of open space in the frame. I also did not want to drill into the walls so most of the wood framing is completely wedged into tight spaces. There are only about three or four drill holes in the wall space of about 5'x8'.

There are only three major steps to this project:

Build a frame.
Put up the drywall.
Mount the door.

This seems simple, but dorm rooms are never perfectly square, so you will need to adjust because nothing is really straight. This wall obviously does not have to be perfect since it just intended to split a room into two, but the door will slide better if the wall is straighter.

Step 3: Building a Frame

Find a place in your room that is somewhat close to the center of the room. At this location you are going to want to place your first beam. In order to use the concrete scews properly you will need to drill a guide hole first. Since the wooden beam has inherit thickness, you will need to shorten the guide hole. You can use a level, but the room may be slanted so you should probably just use your eyes.

Drill the guide hole, and mount and drill in the first beam. Drill another hole if you need to, this is the anchor of the wall, everything else will rely on the strength of that connection in order to support the weight of the door. You can drill as many holes as you want... but your going to have to pay for it in the end... I think making perfect measurements and wedging will be fine for supporting the 10-15 pound door.

If you want to have a thicker wall, you need to use a wider beam. I used 1.5", since dorm rooms are small I thought that this would be a pretty reasonable beam size.

Since you will be dealing with a smaller space, it is likely that you won't need that much wood. I covered the entire length of each wall with wood, wedging the opposing side into the 8' space. Cutting the edge of the beam at 45 degree angle will also facilitate the wedging process.

I used a sliding door that is wider than half the width of the wall, so you will need to have the door port off center ( that sounds much more confusing than it is). I also wanted to guarantee that sound and light would be blocked, so i made the door frame in inch shorter on each side and on the top. This would cover up future mistakes as well as assure that the door would cover the hole.

There are many different ways you can build the frame, just make sure there is an area that you can wedge the wood into. Also, remember where you put the beams this will make your job easier. Take a picture if you can not remember.

When you wedge and mount the outer frame, you can start mounting the inner frame. You can design it how you like, but use my blue print as a guideline. I also ran out of wood at one point, so on of my cross beams looks shortened. If you want to put a screw in at an angle, you will need to drill a pilot hole.

The blue print included uses angled cross beams, in order to accomplish this you will need to make two 45 degree cuts that are parallel to each other.

Step 4: Add Drywall

From what I've gathered people think drywall is harder to use than it really is. All you need is some dry wall screws and a razor blade. This is a bi-layer wall, so both sides will be covered by dry wall. I used a smaller car to transport the dry wall, so I cut the pieces in half (4'x4'). Measure your wall and keep note of where your beams are... write it down.

Turn the drywall on its backside (paper backed side) and outline the wall based on your measurements. I placed a ruler on the surface of the drywall in order to cut a straight line. Take a straight edge and pass through your sketched lines a few times until you feel it cut through. Don't worry of you didn't fully cut through. Carefully lift up the drywall and bend the piece at the cut line, the drywall should break. Now, you can take your straight edge and cut through the cardboard backing. This stuff gets messy, wear a mask and cover the floor, or rent an industrial vacuum.

Once you've got your shapes you will want to mount the drywall onto the studs. With the drywall in place, find your studs and drill away. I used about 8 screws per 4x4 sheet.

Now that both sides are mounted, look for gaps, you can cover them later... but keep note of them.

**Use 1/2" drywall on each side to increase sound blocking. I used 1/4"

Step 5: Mount the Door

The door I bought is slightly thicker than the slider kit, I needed to bring the track away from the wall. I did this by adding an external beam. This added stability to the sliding door.

The mount that I bought is intended to be mounted so that the holes are parallel with the floor. I mounted the holes perpendicular to the floor, it worked out better for me. Follow the directions given with the kit, keep the plastic rail guides.

In order for the door to work well the rail needs to be pretty straight. Have a friend help you out. Add the wheels to the door, and slide it onto the tract.

The door may make a little noise, used WD40, it works like a champ and makes sliding work a lot better.

You can also add the door handle at this time.

Step 6: Sound and Light Proofing

Sound will always make its way through, but you can do everything possible to block it.

The best way to increase the sound blockage would be to increase the drywall thickness, but that would be a little more expensive.

With the door closed I looked around the wall and used foam tape to cover up any openings. If the door is moving around a lot we will fix this in the next step. The foam works really well and will provide a seal comparable to a quality sliding door. Add the foam when the DOOR IS CLOSED. Use the door as a guideline for laying down the foam.

Step 7: Decreasing Unwanted Motion and Gaps

I placed the foam tape on the backside of the actual sliding tract, this decreased the undesired range of motion.

The door will also move around perpendicular to the sliding motion. I eliminated this by Velcro taping one of the plastic guide pieces underneath the door... it works very well and will not come off.

There was also a sizable gap between the closed door and the interior drywall. I measured the space (door way) and cut a long piece of drywall to fit into the empty space.

Step 8: Making It All Look Good

Based on tugging and pushing... this wall could comfortably hold up 100-150 pounds. You can decorate it with virtually any posters you have.

I didn't want to paint anything... it's messy, and will spill everywhere... Don't use paint.

I didn't mind small gaps because I knew that I'd be covering up the wall with some flexible material.

I went to target and bought a twin XL fitted sheet, I didn't want any seem lines so I made sure that the sheet was at least the size of my wall. I cut the sheet to size and stapled away. If you pull tight enough, the wall will look like it's painted.

I used some standard picture frame hooks, and hung some posters... NOW, it looks like a normal college room wall.

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    98 Discussions


    9 years ago on Introduction

    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.

    19 replies

    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

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


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 4 years ago on Introduction

    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).


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    1+ on everything dragonvpm said, that wall is clearly a fire hazard inaddition to being a code violation.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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"


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.


    Reply 9 years ago on Introduction

    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.