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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 11:11 am 
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Hi Everyone,

Long time listener, first time caller. Can't thank you all enough for the wealth of information on this forum! In this post I’ll describe the space as it stands, then move onto our current design idea in the next. (Hope that’s OK! Thought it might keep things a bit clearer…)

I'm currently in the planning phase of my first studio build (ahh!) with a small indie record label here in Los Angeles. They've recently renewed a 25-year lease on their office building (of which they're the only occupants) and are expanding their current studio space into something more professional. The new studio will be mainly used for mixing/mastering of their releases, artist recording sessions, and audio post-production for video. I'll be the Studio Manager and am bringing over my existing clients and equipment for this joint effort.

We're hoping to begin de/construction in a week, and I've had several consultations with professional acousticians and studio builders over the past month. That being said, we have a small construction budget of about $10k MAX and I think we’ve learned the expensive things to avoid, and best ways to isolate the space for this budget. We're planning to grow as we go with equipment/acoustic treatment, but want to make a solid investment from the get-go to isolate as much as possible.

Our main goals for this project (in order of importance) are to:
1. Create a studio environment that is isolated and free of outside office noise coming into the space.
2. Create an accurate Control room for mixing, with an additional Live room for vocals, strings, percussion etc.
3. Ease the amount of bleed from the studio for other employees in the building.

I should point out that these other employees have dealt with lots of bleed coming from this space over the years. There are a lot of hip-hop artists working here daily, and the staff has learned to deal with constant thumping. Any relief of the bleed will be appreciated, but we’re trying to keep our expectations realistic with respect to our budget.

Regarding other neighbors… the space has never had a noise complaint with lots of loud stuff going on at all times of day/night. There’s about a foot of concrete between us and the nearest neighbor - which is currently an empty building, but sometimes has film shoots and temporary installs. I should also point out that I’ve sat in this room for many hours now, and have not once heard street noise of any sort… sirens, yelling, honking - nothing. Only the sounds of the hallway, office and hvac are audible in the studio.

The space as it stands is on the 2nd floor of a 2-story office building. The first floor of the building is a vacant storefront (also leased by the label for future plans), and houses the label’s inventory warehouse behind that. The 2nd floor is where the studio and employee offices are. A map of 2nd floor:

Attachment:
sts_model_og_iso_overview.png


Here are current panoramic pictures of the 2 spaces:

Future Control Room:
Attachment:
01a_panarama_control.jpg


Future Live Room:
Attachment:
01b_panarama_tracking.jpg


The studio is 2 separate rooms with a drop ceiling that is suspended over the entirety of the office complex:

Attachment:
sts_model_og_iso.png


Almost every wall on the 2nd floor is a partition that only goes up 9’ 10", then has the drop ceiling system rest on top. 21" above that is a plaster/wood-decking ceiling that suspends the T-bars and has HVAC, electrical, etc coming through it. Above that is about 3’ of vaulted attic space. Here are ceiling details:

Attachment:
sts_model_og_ceiling_detail.png


Attic:

Attachment:
01c_attic_above_ceiling.jpg


Dimensions:

Attachment:
sts_model_og_dimensions.png


The only exception to the "false walls" is near the reception area with the window in it. About 2/3 of it appears to have been built as a structural wall, so that one does go up all the way to the plaster ceiling. Detail of that from above the drop ceiling:

Attachment:
01b_inch_wall_far.jpg


There is a ledge along the concrete exterior wall, as well as a couple of vertical columns... This is earthquake rebar that’s been dressed up. Here’s a reveal of that through the drop ceiling:

Attachment:
05c_column_rebar.JPG


I ran some SPL tests in the space. Here are two diagrams that show the normal SPL of the studio and offices (HVAC running, chatter/phone calls etc), as well as a map that shows SPL when there’s a loud operating level coming from what will eventually be the Live room. The source material was a hip-hop track from the label, so this should be indicative of typical levels:

Attachment:
sts_model_og_iso_spl_quiet.png

Attachment:
sts_model_og_iso_spl_music.png


AFAICT, the main source of transmission and weakest iso-point (besides doors/windows) is the shared space above the entire floorplan. The drop ceiling with standard tiles does very little to kill any sound, not to mention the walls seem un-insulated (so-cal style…)

One thing I noticed is the volume seems and tested louder in the hallway/office than it does in the reception area, which is relatively quiet. This tells me that the structural wall is doing some good in blocking sound by merely going up all the way to the plaster ceiling.

Hope this is sufficient information. Here's a link to the sketchup file of the original space in case that’s helpful. In the next post I’ll outline my current design idea and ask some questions! Thanks for reading :mrgreen:


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 27, 2015 12:26 pm 
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My current design idea is based around:

1. Doing this all for under $10k
2. Isolating the studio space from office sounds
3. Using the existing concrete wall within the space to cut costs, and treating it heavily with Acoustic Panels/Absorption
4. Using and fortifying all exterior walls, ceiling and the partition wall dividing the rooms

I suppose the ideal goal would be to gain about 15-20db of reduction in the hallway… and to eliminate any possibility of voices, doors opening/closing, phones ringing etc from coming into the studio.

Here are some views of the design:

Attachment:
sts_model_8_1_b_iso.png

Attachment:
sts_model_8_1_b_iso_xray.png

Attachment:
sts_model_8_1_b_section.png

Attachment:
sts_model_8_1_b_dimensions.png


Here are the "steps" involved with the design as I see it:

01. Remove drop ceiling in studio space

02. Patch Plaster Ceiling
- There are some areas of the ceiling where the plaster has fallen…

Attachment:
04b_ceiling_detail.jpg


03. Add 1 layer of 5/8" gypsum to existing plaster ceiling; seal drywall and all HVAC/Elec openings

04. Remove Interior Drywall from existing walls and place against inside of exterior drywall (between studs, creating double mass in cavities)

05. Frame up exterior walls 21" to plaster ceiling with new studs/drywall on exterior

Attachment:
sts_model_8_1_b_frame_up.png


06. Fill newly formed cavities with R-13

07. Frame 5 new walls (1 on each side except for concrete wall) 2" from original studs, up to drywall ceiling.

08. Fill new interior wall cavities with R-13 (creating ~10" Air Gap between 2 leaves)

09. Place 2 layers 5/8" gypsum on Interior Walls

10. Re-Install Drop Ceiling… about 1ft higher than previously.

11. Install actual acoustic tiles / diffusion in T-bar system

12. Treat walls/corners with traps, diffusion etc.

My thinking is that this design could be efficient enough for our needs, and still provide a nice listening environment and studio "feeling". To reiterate, our main goal is keeping outside sound from coming INTO the space. I’ve priced all the materials for such a build to be around $5k including solid doors, screws, paint, tax and all that misc. Those numbers were computed from the areas of the entire walls, so hoping they're somewhat liberal:

Attachment:
sts_model_8_1_b_area.png


I’m hoping this could be done within a 3-week period. I’ve found a craftsman in town who’s worked on studios before and is comfortable with all these terms and building methods. We’re working on a situation where he does the important tasks with my help, then I and some friends can caulk, tape, hang drywall etc. So far with his rate in mind I’m still a bit under 10k…

I suppose these are my main questions about this design:

1. Is not having a new ceiling that's decoupled from the exterior walls going to be a major killer? My current design has both sets of walls going up to a reinforced ceiling with a beefed up false ceiling. We have no neighbors above us, but I’m worried that the new walls will do nothing and too much sound will still "jump" over to the offices. Building a ceiling and then drastically redoing all the HVAC/Elec seems like the most expensive/tedious part of the project. Would like to avoid doing so if possible.

2. I’m assuming that my thinking for the 2 leaf MAM walls is correct, and that it’s worth the effort to tear off the interior layer of drywall to prevent that 3rd leaf? I’m really trying to maximize the amount of things I can do for cheap/free, and this sounds like a project I could get underway before we start building walls for little/no expense.

3. I’m having a hard time deciding about door placement. I originally moved the CR door to where that window was, but now I’m thinking it will be tough to treat the back corner also. Where would you move the CR door in this situation? Or is this an OK spot considering there's already a hole from where the window was?

4. Would you use double doors on the Control Room? Seems a bit easier than building a single monster door, which we’ll probably have to do for the live room since it’s on a hallway.

5. Roxul Safe n Sound vs R13 in wall cavities seems to be a hotly contested issue. Are there any final verdicts in that conversation? Both are available in Los Angeles, but would like to save the money by going with R13 if possible.

6. Is there anything I’m overlooking or not thinking about? Any catastrophic holes in the design?!

Really looking forward to hearing any feedback or opinions. Thanks so much in advance for reading all this!


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 12:59 am 
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Deconstruction has begun! A few photos of drop-ceiling removal, and beginning to push the inner-layer drywall back to the outer. Sawzalling in between the studs and then will cleat/caulk the big pieces.

Attachment:
IMG_0196.JPG


Attachment:
IMG_0198.JPG


Attachment:
IMG_0195.JPG


Attachment:
IMG_0223.JPG


One nice surprise I found yesterday is that the back wall of the live room also goes up to the ceiling - similar to the back wall of the control room. A little less framing/drywalling to be done:

Attachment:
IMG_0197.JPG


More to come throughout the weekend... Would appreciate feedback on the design if anyone gets a free moment!


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PostPosted: Sat Aug 01, 2015 9:23 pm 
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It’s really great posts.


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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 8:49 am 
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lavenders wrote:
1. Is not having a new ceiling that's decoupled from the exterior walls going to be a major killer?


Probably...or more accurately...yes!

The best way to achieve isolation is to build a room within a room. You should be putting joists across the space (on which you will hang the internal ceiling), supported off the internal frame, so that the internal frame does not make contact with the outer leaf at ANY point...apart from the floor. It will obviously add cost, however it will mean you stand more of a chance of achieving your goal of isolation.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:24 am 
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lavenders wrote:
2. I’m assuming that my thinking for the 2 leaf MAM walls is correct, and that it’s worth the effort to tear off the interior layer of drywall to prevent that 3rd leaf? I’m really trying to maximize the amount of things I can do for cheap/free, and this sounds like a project I could get underway before we start building walls for little/no expense.


Roger that! You'll also want to line inside both 'leaves' with insulation (as close to 30 km/m^3 if it's fiberglass or 50 kg/m^3 if its mineral fibre) which you can't do if you don't rip that layer off.

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PostPosted: Tue Aug 04, 2015 9:31 am 
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lavenders wrote:
3. I’m having a hard time deciding about door placement. I originally moved the CR door to where that window was, but now I’m thinking it will be tough to treat the back corner also. Where would you move the CR door in this situation? Or is this an OK spot considering there's already a hole from where the window was?

4. Would you use double doors on the Control Room? Seems a bit easier than building a single monster door, which we’ll probably have to do for the live room since it’s on a hallway.


If you can get the door out of the CR corner that will help you with treating that room - you will want super-chunks or some such in the corners for bass absorption/management. Also, symmetry is a big thing for mix rooms...so having both back corners treated in the same way will help towards making it a mix/master room worth having.

Double doors are better than not...however the suggestion is still for somewhat massive doors...to match the massiveness of the walls etc. As well as well sealed doors.

Have you considered HVAC into your planning yet? An important - expensive - and somewhat fiddly part of the design. If not..get on to that pronto! Ventilation and moisture control will be big factors for both these rooms.

Cheers,

Scott

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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2015 6:58 am 
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Much more progress since my last post! I’ve been grinding on all the deconstruction and modifications to the existing structure every day, so haven’t had much time to update.

I decided to take the advice of Scott (rockindad) and basically every other person on this forum and build a new ceiling. As this is probably our weakest point considering the drop ceiling that spans the building, I figured it best not to skimp here. Thanks for reinforcing that! It actually shouldn’t cost too much more than my estimate for reinstalling a T-Bar ceiling. A materials delivery error worked in our favor and we also had an architect friend come by and approve all our structural concerns. Fate has been kind thus far.

So! Here are some pictures…

T-Bar ceiling totally removed, and interior drywall sawzalled out between the studs in both rooms:

Attachment:
IMG_0236.jpg

Attachment:
IMG_0254.jpg


Ceiling Plaster patched with pieces of 1/2” drywall, caulk and mud:

Attachment:
IMG_0263.jpg


Doors and Windows removed, old control room door framed in, and interior drywall pieces “pushed back” and caulked into the cavities:

Attachment:
IMG_0289.jpg


Control/Tracking window - 36” x 60” - cut out:

Attachment:
IMG_0292.jpg


Insulation starting to get stapled into exterior wall cavities:

Attachment:
IMG_0288.jpg


Lumber delivery!

Attachment:
IMG_0297.jpg


Onto some questions…

We discovered plywood beneath the walls that go up to the ceiling (see first photo), indicating that they’re shearing walls. Because of this, we won’t be able to create a pure 2-leaf system in these areas. This is one of those “work with what you’ve got” situations I think, since this is a structural element of the building.

My plan is to start the airgap (10” from leaf to leaf) between the old/new walls from the surface of the shearing wall, as if they were the “back” of the exterior drywall. I’ve begun stapling insulation backwards to these walls (kraft facing on the wall) to dampen the impending cavity they’ll create. Like so:

Attachment:
IMG_0307.jpg


I’m assuming this is an acceptable way to go? I know it’s not perfect, but I figured better to have insulation in there than not.

More updates coming soon! Next steps are to add a 5/8” layer of sheetrock to the plaster ceiling, fill the hole where the old door was, and start framing the exterior walls up to the ceiling the whole way around.

Would appreciate any input!


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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2015 11:11 am 
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Quote:
, and interior drywall pieces “pushed back” and caulked into the cavities:
Right, but I don't see any cleats? You do need cleats to hold the drywall in place: caulk alone isn't enough.


Quote:
Because of this, we won’t be able to create a pure 2-leaf system in these areas. This is one of those “work with what you’ve got” situations I think, since this is a structural element of the building.
Pity. But sometimes you just have no choice! But with a 10" air gap and a good amount of mass on the leaves, you should be OK.

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:02 am 
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Thanks for the response Stuart! I used a lot of liquid nails between the layers, caulked and mudded. Most of them were pretty small pieces... I've sawzalled through a few of those layered panels and they act like one thick piece throughout the entire cut. I'll add some cleats on the bigger remaining pieces just to be super safe.

More updates coming soon, just got a couple of walls up :D

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PostPosted: Thu Aug 27, 2015 3:30 am 
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Quote:
I used a lot of liquid nails between the layers,
:shock: Ooopps! Bad move... You really should ask before you do things like that. You now have one very rigid, stiff chunk, instead of several individual, flexible layers that are able to work independently. You now have one single very pronounced coincidence dip, at a much lower frequency than it should be, among other issues.

viewtopic.php?f=2&t=493&start=19

It's too late now, of course (unless you feel like trashing the walls and starting again!), so you'll have to live with that... But how much isolation are you aiming for, and at what frequencies? You might need to compensate for that lost isolation in other ways...

Quote:
I've sawzalled through a few of those layered panels and they act like one thick piece throughout the entire cut.
Yup. And that's the problem: They should not act like that. They should act like individual layers, supported only at the edges.

Hopefully it's not too bug of a deal, but it does teach that it's always better to ask before doing things in a studio build, because acoustics is not intuitive. Sound waves and building materials do not behave together in the ways we intuitively expect them to...



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PostPosted: Tue Sep 08, 2015 12:19 pm 
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@Stuart: Whoops! Definitely didn't consider that. Luckily I think that's the only "shortcut" I took and stayed pretty on-book for the rest. Thanks for the heads up! I suppose having 1" drywall instead of 1/2" drywall is still better than just throwing the pieces of sheetrock away.

Much progress has happened in the last 2 weeks, and we're almost ready for drywall! Some pics:

New exterior ceiling layer of 5/8" sheetrock going up:
Attachment:
1_sts_pic.jpg


New exterior ceiling up!
Attachment:
2_sts_pic.jpg


Framing and installing the "crippled walls" that extend from current partitions up to new drywall on ceiling. Double 5/8" sheetrock on all these, left out that one bay as that's where Electrical was coming through. (We've since removed all the electrical and will start fresh with all new surface mounted receptacles/switches that will connect to J-boxes in the attic-space. Will home-run new clean connections to the breaker.)
Attachment:
3_sts_pic.jpg


Our lead builder in action framing the first new wall:
Attachment:
4_sts_pic.jpg


New Control Room Walls:
Attachment:
5_sts_pic.jpg


New Control Room Ceiling:
Attachment:
6_sts_pic.jpg


Walls & Ceiling + RC & Fluff:
Attachment:
7_sts_pic.jpg


Reverse Angle of the Control Room/Wood Shop:
Attachment:
8_sts_pic.jpg


Starting to Frame the Tracking Room and Window:
Attachment:
9_sts_pic.jpg


And that brings us up-to-speed! Goal for this week is to finish Electrical & HVAC roughing/framing, tracking room walls/ceiling framing and get our drywall team in the room to start hanging/caulking.

A couple of questions have popped up, hopefully someone can assist:

1. For HVAC, I was told by an architect that just snaking an extra 25' of larger flex duct in the attic is essentially the same as building a baffle box. That's what he said he does to minimize A/C noise - which is already pretty quiet in our space. I'm thinking of expanding the 8" duct that's currently there to 12", then running the extra 25' of that into the room per duct... There's currently a bit of hum, but the system is pretty quiet as-is. Has anyone experimented with such a system?

2. Another HVAC question - Currently there's just flex extending down through the ceiling that connected to the old T-Bar grate. I'm thinking of placing a metal, rigid duct between the 2 ceiling layers I have so that I can create a more rigid caulking connection leading up to the register. Is this the right idea? Seems impossible to do if I were to just extend the flex-duct through.

Let me know any feedback! Opinions greatly welcomed.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 9:01 am 
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Great time for another update while I wait for the drywall team to finish up on this Sunday afternoon...

HVAC Vents installed with Registers. Connected these to some scrap RC-1 that was lying around to get it flush with the drywall:

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0510_1024.jpg


Was a LOT of fun playing in the attic connecting ducts for a few hours the other day during our 100°+ heatwave!

The idea of widening the duct to 10" and extending it 25' to get it "farther" from the compressor seems to have worked. No more dull hum coming through the pipes - as far as I can hear. I still haven't moved the returns from the hallway into the space since they'd just be sucking up drywall dust... Figure I'll do that as a potential last step. Still need to figure out how to build a filter box to move the filter into the attic instead of at the vent opening... :blah:

Framing is completed in the live room:

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0525_1024.jpg

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0526_1024.jpg


Let there be drywall:

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0537_1024.jpg

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0585_1024.jpg


Decided to skimcoat the concrete wall as well, which was in pretty bad shape:

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0601_1024.jpg


Drywall should be finishing up tomorrow, then we'll start painting. Tuesday = window delivery/install, hopefully doors and all their parts can all be gathered this week.

Speaking of jambs - 5/4 stock lumber has been the hardest thing to find in this build so far. I don't know if it's becoming more and more of a "specialty" item, but I'm getting blank stares almost everywhere - way beyond big box stores. Legit lumber yards are either out of stock for the forseeable future, or questioning why I would need such a thing...

I'm not giving up on the search though, as it seems like a fairly important part of keeping things sturdy. Not to mention we've built all the framing to accomodate it :cop: I found a moulding shop that has some 5/4 poplar, but in random lengths & widths. I'm hoping I can convince them to cut some down so I'm not left with dozens of feet of weird-dimension lumber.

Speaking of weird dimensions... 5/4 stock is hard to find, but ever look for a 5/4" x 17" x 7'?

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0600_1024.jpg


Haha! I've decided to stray from Rod's double door assembly (straight jamb) here, and custom 2 separate jambs with caulk in-between a la Glenn's door. The moulding shop has 5/4 x 6.625" and a 9.875" that should work and leave about a .25" gap.

Meanwhile for the live room's super door I intend to keep it a straight jamb. The moulding shop has 12 7/8" that should work if ripped down a bit. The outside (existing) wall is 1/2" out of plumb so we'll have to go from 12 3/4" > 12 1/4" - bummer.

I've been dreaming about door and window jambs the past few nights, so I'll be stoked to have those completed. It's probably horrifying me because it's the ultimate test of "Did any of this work, or not?" HA!

Been reading lots of posts on creating these jambs, so hopefully all will go smoothly. The one thing I can't figure out is the purpose for Rod's Neoprene seal along the window sill. Finding a 1.75" solid neoprene strip has also been difficult, and I don't see many people using it anyway. I think I'm going to just stuff the framing cavity with some extra R-13, TAPE the opening to prevent fluff-dust from coming through, then place fabric-wrapped 703 or ceiling tile between the jamb and stops.

I found some 6"x6' KAYU wood that I may use for the window jamb as it's very straight, very dense and available in 5/4 stock at a local store. It's also pretty. Literally the only 5/4 nominal boards I've found in all of Los Angeles:

Attachment:
thumb_IMG_0589_1024.jpg


Have lots of previous posts open in tabs about building the windows and doors. Would appreciate any pointers for my situation if anything jumps out at anyone!

Very excited to paint and think about aesthetics... and glad the end is in sight for major construction.

We've blasted through our budget unfortunately. Getting this to happen quickly did not end up being cheap, and when you're in the middle of the install you can't exactly "do without" something. We're hoping to keep things around $16k instead of our original $10k max. Luckily we anticipated this - somewhat - and had some emergency funds to cover us to the end. Still better than the $35k minimum some designers quoted us.

Thanks for reading and any advice is always appreciated!


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 21, 2015 12:37 pm 
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This is cool! I love seeing progress on forum builds.

Quote:
Decided to skimcoat the concrete wall as well, which was in pretty bad shape:
Smart move! That will actually help a lot, because it seals the concrete surface, which is porous.

Quote:
custom 2 separate jambs with caulk in-between a la Glenn's door. The moulding shop has 5/4 x 6.625" and a 9.875" that should work and leave about a .25" gap.
That should work just fine, especially if you get that 5/4 for the jambs.

Quote:
Finding a 1.75" solid neoprene strip has also been difficult
I'm wondering if Sorbothane might be a good alternative. Give them a call and see what they think. They make it up to 1.5", but you could probably laminate thinner sheets to get the thickness you need.

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Mon Oct 26, 2015 2:45 am 
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It’s really great posts.


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