Conquering a divider.
November 5, 2012 12:06 PM   Subscribe

How can I, in a relatively-affordable (ideally less than $150), non-permanent fashion, create a partition across one end of my basement to hold the heat from my space heater in to my home office/nook?

I have a big basement. The main area is about 18'x24'. I have established my home office in one end of the basement, and am telecommuting, so I spend a fair amount of time down here. Unfortunately, it's getting to be wintertime, and it's cold down here. I don't want to heat the entire basement and the rest of the house with the furnace, so help me devise a way to keep the heat from a space heater in my work nook.
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I sit where the asterisk is. The curly braces represent the divider I'd like to build. The divider would be about 14 feet long. Things I've considered:

* Heavy-ish curtains, floor-to ceiling. Advantages of possibly letting in light, being easy to get through. Disadvantage of possibly being expensive or time-consuming to sew myself (and I suck at sewing).

* Some sort of solution with cheapo slab doors and a ceiling-hung track. Not sure where to find such a track. Disadvantages of no light pass-through and possibly being clunky to get open/closed.

So...what ideas am I missing? Key attributes: holds in heat, easy to get through, relatively inexpensive, semi-permanent (easy to take down). Desired attributes: lets light through, easy to acquire locally to Kansas City, MO.
posted by jferg to Home & Garden (22 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
When I lived in an unheated warehouse, I bought yards of 60" wide canvas to make walls and ceilings to hold in heat. If they go floor to ceiling they hold in a lot. If you hang another set of "walls" 6-8" away you'll have an insulating air gap that should keep you really toasty.
posted by oneirodynia at 12:11 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd lay 2x4s across the floor, adhered with construction adhesive, match a header along the ceiling, and then stud in a wall. You can easily put in a door and/or windows, and you can actually insulate between the studs and then put in drywall, giving you a partition wall with some real R-value (which you won't get with your other solutions).
posted by ellF at 12:12 PM on November 5, 2012

Do you care about looks? If not, go to a lumber store, buy 6 panels of 2x8 rigid foam insulation, cut them to the exact height and wedge them between ceiling and floor. This leaves a 2-foot opening to get in and out. Hang up a quilt or something in that opening to keep the heat from escaping. Under $100 total.
posted by beagle at 12:12 PM on November 5, 2012 [4 favorites]

What are the dimensions (width & height) of the entry to the section you're trying to close off? Curtains seem like the obvious answer to me, but if I knew the size I might be able to better suggest a specific option. What sort of budget would you like to stay in?
posted by brainmouse at 12:12 PM on November 5, 2012

A pretty solution.
posted by zug at 12:13 PM on November 5, 2012 [5 favorites]

I was just coming in here to suggest the curtains method.

Even if you do a horrible job sewing, you can cobble something together for probably less then $50. Just make sure to get sturdy rods.
posted by royalsong at 12:13 PM on November 5, 2012

Brainmouse: Opening is roughly 14' wide by 8' tall. Budget is roughly $150, although cheaper is better.

ellF: Trying to avoid things that can't be easily put away, because I'd like to be able to open it up during the warmer parts of the year.
posted by jferg at 12:16 PM on November 5, 2012

zug: Would love that ... maybe in 2 years when KC gets an IKEA. *sigh*
posted by jferg at 12:18 PM on November 5, 2012

jferg: Could you lay the header and put in a barn door? If you were able to find a reclaimed one on Craigslist, you'd have something nicer looking than a curtain, more durable than the Ikea panels, and not terribly difficult to setup.
posted by ellF at 12:28 PM on November 5, 2012

I created a separate space by buying cheapish wardrobes at Kmart that I placed side by side to create a wall. This gave me needed storage and then a curtain for what serves as a doorway.
posted by readery at 12:29 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

I'd look on Craigslist for free-standing cubicle wall partitions.

Keep the space heater FAR from whatever you build.

Re: Barn door - here's hardware kit from a random place:
posted by tilde at 12:30 PM on November 5, 2012

I have found that you don't even need heavy curtains to do the job. I put up a curtain that is made of an almost see-through tightly woven material on a spring curtain rod across the doorway of my basement tv room in the winter, and it does a fantastic job of keeping the warmth from the space heater in. You just need something to keep all the hot air from going upstairs.

I've also used sheets of that corrugated plastic sheet stuff as a cheap temporary divider in the past. It comes in white and translucent plastic 4'x8' sheets.
posted by fimbulvetr at 12:31 PM on November 5, 2012

You don't need curtain rods for ceiling curtains, you need curtain tracks.

Your goals of letting in light and keeping in heat are kind of contradictory. If you find you are OK with artificial light, these blackout insulating curtains might work for you. ($80 for about eight feet of width). You don't say how high your ceiling is, but since it's a basement, I'm assuming 9ft high curtains would work.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 12:38 PM on November 5, 2012

i think using rigid foam boards as beagle suggested is the way. it's not actually too ugly as they take paint fairly well and you could hang them VERY easily with eye hooks as they are very lightweight. then just stack them out of the way in the summer months. as a bonus they are really easy to customize with a utility knife.

PS. bonus internet points to you for your ascii room drawing.
posted by chasles at 12:39 PM on November 5, 2012

You can use shower curtains. We use them to keep the drafts out of our chicken coop in the winter and they're very easy to install. They're only 2.50 each at Target. They probably aren't 8 feet tall, but you can have multiple layers for that price.

Plus, they're clear and will let the light in.
posted by Alison at 12:41 PM on November 5, 2012

Curtain tracks, as stupidsexyFlanders suggested, but use vinyl shower curtains or sheers. All you really need is something to keep the warm air from moving out of your office. While window sheers won't stop as much air movement as heavier curtains, they won't block as much light either. Maybe a combination of heavier curtains and lighter ones?
posted by jlkr at 12:43 PM on November 5, 2012

1/2" foam boards measuring 4x8 feet run less than $10 each from the DIY centres. Buy three, that's 12' wide.

Depending on your ceiling height they may wedge in place on their own. Otherwise trim them to wedge-fit, or just wedge them in on top of something.

Use a less-than-lovely sheet (who doesn't have one of these?) to cover the 2' wide "doorway" that remains. Just staple/tack it up on the ceiling and pull it aside to enter leave.

Done for under $30 and less than 10 minutes.
posted by seanmpuckett at 1:12 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Why don't you use insulation boards. That is by far the best insulation material.
Make a cheap, quick fram wall with 2x4's, and tack the insulation boards to it.
posted by Flood at 1:29 PM on November 5, 2012

When I lived in Buffalo we heated part of the house by using curtains. We went to a fabric store and got some remnants or close out fabric. The corduroy curtain kept in so much heat the change in temperature was startling.

We didn't install a track or get a curtain rod. We simple suspended a heavy dowel rod and hung the sheet over it. It was very effective, simple, and probably cost $50.
posted by munchingzombie at 1:35 PM on November 5, 2012 [1 favorite]

Clear plastic cafe blinds?
posted by kjs4 at 2:37 PM on November 5, 2012

Alison has it- we use clear shower curtains on our doorways (animals can get in and out, only need to heat the room we're in) and they work great. Plus, they're easy to remove in more temperate weather.
posted by dogmom at 6:36 PM on November 5, 2012

Thanks, all - I think I'm probably going to end up going the curtains route, since the closest Ikea is 6 hours away. I may still try to do something up with barn-door/pocket-door track, though - we'll see how ambitious I'm feeling.
posted by jferg at 5:44 AM on November 6, 2012

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