How to Design a Built-In Entertainment Center Out of Drywall
Using drywall to build an entertainment center is one way to create a large unit without spending a lot of money. You can use leftover wood framing or recycled wood doors from other projects to save money, too. After enclosing the framework design to form the skeleton of the unit, you can cover a lot of the surfaces using drywall only. For DIY projects, the cost of drywall is less than $.75 per square foot.
Measure the entire room that will house the entertainment center. Sketch the floor plan on graph paper to define how much room you will allow for the unit. Draw the wall facade where you will build the unit, so you can create the overall look of the entertainment center with drywall and additional materials. Plan to build the unit 16 feet wide on an end wall, for example. One option is to draw the unit 8 feet high and 24 inches deep.
Draw the skeleton wood framework of the unit. Use 2-by-4-inch boards for the outer walls, floor area and ceiling area. Use 2-by-4-inch boards to create framework for the center section that will hold heavy items, such as a flat-screen television that will rest on a large shelf. Plan to buy 2-by-2-inch wood framing to separate shelves or storage areas that will hold books or artwork only.
Write down the materials to buy. Buy premade cabinet doors and wooden trim to fit around openings in the drywall. Allow 4-by-8-foot sheets of drywall to cover enclosed spaces. Plan to cover a section 30 inches high across the entire bottom of the unit, for example. Figure out a way to drywall over the soffit area near the ceiling that will measure 15 inches high, as one option. Purchase metal trim for interior and exterior drywall corners, drywall tape, joint compound, sandpaper and paint to finish the drywall.
Use a stud finder to find ceiling joists and floor joists to which the framework will be attached. Plan to run electrical wiring to the top of the unit for recessed lighting or track lighting before enclosing the soffit with drywall. Build the entire unit’s skeleton framework before starting to add any drywall, however.
Nail all drywall into place, but leave openings for doors and shelving. Finish up drywall with metal trim in appropriate corners before adding drywall tape and joint compound. Sand the surfaces between coats of joint compound to get a smooth finish. Plan to install trim around door areas to hold premade doors. Install wood veneer over flat drywall surfaces to form shelving. Paint the veneer to match the drywall or stain it in a wood finish. Don’t plan to store art objects or books on the top of drywall surfaces, because drywall is too delicate to bear weight.
Add heavier materials to protect the unit, if you wish. Install bead board paneling across the bottom area about 30 inches high, so children will not dent the drywall during play, for example. Add crown molding across the bottom at the floor level or across the top at the ceiling level. Use crown molding that is 4 inches high along the floor seam, so that sweeping and mopping the floor won’t get the unit's drywall dirty. Install a baseboard across the bottom of the unit from wall to wall as another choice.
Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.
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