What kind of theater room doesn’t have raised seating? Okay, I guess most don’t but if you’re on the hunt for theater room designs and came across some cool layouts – chances are they all have some sort of platform. Good news is this is a quick and easy project that you can bang out in a day or two.
- 2×6 & 2×4 Framing Lumber
- Construction Screws
- Construction Adhesive
- Laminate of your choice
- Laminate Nosing
- (Optional) Insulation
- Power Drill
- Brad Nailer
Obviously the simpler the design, the easier it is to put together. I find squares to be easy to work with and much easier to furnish. Either way, the premise of the build remains the same.
High Level build. In summary, each level will consist of a frame layered with 2 sheets of 3/4″ plywood (1.5″ total). Your first step off the ground (rise) will be the width of your framing plus the 1.5″ plywood layer and finally, the height of your flooring. Your second step, will match the exact width of your framing choice (Don’t add the plywood and flooring height to the second step and beyond since these are already accounted for from the previous step).
Determine the rise of each step that suits your needs. For our setup, we went with a 2 step platform – leading with a dramatic step up followed by a softer one to my seating area.
Of course, if you are new to building, it needs to be said that lumber comes half an inch thinner than listed. So if you are buying 2×4’s, the actual dimensions are 1.5″x3.5″. Similarly, 2×6’s are 1.5″x5.5″. Since I used 2×6’s, the height of my first step was 5.5″ (frame) + 1.5″ (plywood) + 1/2″ (Laminate) = 7 1/2″ high. I used 2×4’s for the second step, so the total rise was 3.5″. Hence the total platform height would be 11″ off the ground (again, don’t add the plywood and laminate to second step since they were already added to the first step).
If you are building on concrete, the lower frame that comes in contact with the floor should be treated to prevent rot. If you are building on finished flooring, normal lumber is fine.
Alright, let’s go.
- Build the base. Complete your outer frame first and secure with construction screws. Once complete, check for square and then add your joists every 16 inch on center. An easy way to do this is to line up the two ends together and use a speed square to mark a line straight across both pieces along your joist lines.
- Frame each additional step. Run your second step perpendicular to the step below, again supporting it every 16 inches and screwing down into the previous step. Make sure you are not only checking for square of each step. This will make laying down your floor boards much easier. Repeat for as many steps as required. Notice the end of my top steps are recessed in, creating a walk around step. If you have this situation, just support it with appropriate framing beneath.
- (Optional) Fill with insulation. You don’t have to do this step if you have a small footprint, or low profile. However if you are covering a larger space, an empty platform will echo. This may have been a bit excessive for me since my platform was rather short in depth and height, but whatever, didn’t want any regrets later. I purchased Rockwool Safe’n’Sound Mineral Wool and shoved them in between the joists. If you are doing this, make sure you wear gloves and a face mask to prevent breathing this stuff in or getting it stuck in your skin.
- Put down your subfloor. We used 3/4″ standard plywood sheets. Doesn’t matter which way you lay the boards down, but idea is to lay them in one direction for your first layer, and then in the opposite orientation the next. For the first layer, I tried to lay my cuts as horizontally wide as possible. Secure the boards against your frame and joists with wood adhesive or construction glue along all the contact points before screwing it in with construction screws. The glue will minimize the bounce in each step. Tip: If you are planning to carpet this bad boy, you can leave a 1 inch nosing at the ends of your step to wrap the carpet around.
- Lay down second sub floor layer. This second layer is really going to solidify your platform. I again used 3/4″ plywood, laid vertically as much as possible. I cut these boards to size, then squirted a ton of glue on the base subfloor, propped these on top and screwed in again for good measure. Try jumping on it now, feels nice right?
Dressing it up
This is where we can really go our separate ways since there are a ton of flooring options. Many seem to go with carpet which I’m assuming is for warmth and sound dampening reasons, but my wife hates carpet. We decided to go for a bevelled laminate with a nice texture. I won’t go too much into how to lay the flooring since this stuff is pretty much click and lock, but I’ll give a quick summary of the process for a platform.
- Let the boards acclimate to it’s home. After bringing everything home, I opened everything up, spread it out and left it in the basement for a day to let it get used to its new home. As you can see, I didn’t dress this photo up at all. Carrying laminate down the stairs is a bitch.
- Start with the first riser and work your way up. When doing stairs and such, it’s always ideal to start from the top and work down. However given how a platform doesn’t leave much room to hide cuts, I started from the bottom up. Start at your first riser, work your way around and fasten the laminate planks to the face of your frame with construction glue and a brad nailer. You don’t need a lot of nails, the point of the nailer is just to hold the plank until the glue cures. Mitre the outside corners for a seamless transition, but no need to mitre the inside corners as they will butt up flush against each other. The key to a flat transition from riser to step is to rip one side of your laminate so it has a flat edge (trim off the grooves) and making sure this lines up flush with the level of your first step. The laminate nosing will use this as additional support to prevent wobbling.
- With your riser set, you can now lay your first nosing along the edge of your step. You’ll notice by cutting the end of your riser board flat, you’ve created a ledge for the nosing to sit on in conjunction with the base. Most nosing will also include a plastic strip that you can fasten to the floor and lock it into. Once you check everything for square, go ahead and mount the track, construction glue, and nails to ensure a strong bind.
- Lay the planks down on your first step, using the nosing as a guide. This stuff is pretty easy to work with as each piece locks into the previous like a puzzle. No need to glue these down as the locks bind all the boards together. When you get to the end of each row, take the cutoff as the starting piece for your next. Basic stuff.
- Once you complete your entire first step, unless you have perfect dimensions, chances are you will need to rip the width of a few boards down to size. I cut mine leaving about 1/8″ space between the next riser to account for potential expansion. This gap will be covered with your second step risers anyways.
- Repeat steps 2 through 6 for each additional layer of your platform.
- Lastly, make sure you clean up any glue stains – construction glue is a pain to clean after it cures if you are messy.
That’s it. Hope you enjoyed this quick DIY. If you like this, check out how we finished the theater room with our starlight fibre optic ceiling.
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