There was a dumb telephone crank call joke that went something like this: “Is Mr Walls there? The innocent granny on the other end meekly saying, “No?” Then a brash youngster who’s voice is picking up volume and speed: “So who’s holding up your fucking walls?” (Click)
The magnitude of this joke meant little growing up. In fact, I always thought it was stupid but I performed it with grace. Imagine the receiver of the call, nodding their head and cursing the future of the world all because of Mr. Walls.
Since then, I’ve taken walls for granted and should give them more thanks. They do the huge job of keeping roofs over our heads. Barring any disasters, wrecking balls or Kool Aid men, walls are meant to stay and I believe that more and more. In the last one week, from doing “light” construction at GR2, I’ve learned a lot about walls and even have issues with them too.
Walls seem simple. Most of the time, they’re white, flat and say very little about a space. It’s what you put on it that makes it, right? Or so I thought. There’s so many things to say about a wall and how it got there. Is it a nicely made one? Is it rough and crooked? Most of the time, we pay no attention to it’s quality but I can attest that surely there is a very nice wall, a pretty good wall, and so forth. Perhaps at least 5 levels of distinction from my eyes. I can now single out errors in the building and at what step caused the mishap, sort of like how I can see bad kerning or poor font selection.
Building walls isn’t as easy as it seems. Like all things, there’s a foundation. Not like a foundation of a house or building, but the frame work inside of the wall. It’s “2×4″ wood beam like pieces constructed like a skeleton. Perhaps there’s up and down beams 2 feet apart. The bottom is bolted into the floor, the top if it’s not attached to the ceiling and bolted, needs some bolstering aside from being bolted into the wall. Basically a wall can’t be a wall without support much like most anything else.
My father explained that the dry wall will actually support the wall and make it sturdy, and that makes clear sense. But you still need to carefully cut it to fit. You use a blade to slice through the paper coating and then you break it across your knee. It’s strange how imperfect the break ends up. I’d think there would be perforations or something to make this cleaner. Ideally the dry wall gets placed on the frame work in a criss cross pattern, depending on the size of the wall. The neater you do this part, the less work later. I won’t get into the boring details, but from here, it looks great. The “wall” isn’t quite done but it looks like a structure. You might just think painting it is the way to go at this point but there’s so much more to do. Filling the gaps with mud, taping, covering the taping, then adding more mud, and more mud, and making it for sure flat, then sanding. Now it’s time to put an undercoat and after it dries, yes you get to paint and then it’s over.
I’m not an expert at building walls, but I have a deep appreciation of them and spent a decent amount of time thinking about what they mean. While going into the project, I imagined a four step process. It’s a freaking wall, right? But it’s more like ten steps and even then, you need to do each step nicely to get to the next step unscathed. It’s like a game of Jenga, except the ending. While the pieces may fall in the game, Mr Walls is meant to stay.