In high-priced cities with little space and lots of demand, putting up temporary pressurized walls can be an innovative way for dividing open floor plans and creating private rooms. However, you should consider factors including cost, installation time and safety before partitioning indoor spaces. Renters, landlords and property owners in competitive housing markets must also ensure that pressurized walls comply with current building regulations.
Unlike permanent walls installed with screws and adhesive materials, pressurized walls use a pressure system for placement and stability. Some temporary pressurized walls are as thick as standard walls, and feature finishes that match room colors and decor. They can also be purchased with sound insulation, and modified to fit varying ceiling heights. While some residents may opt to self-install pressurized walls, most manufacturers also offer installation and removal services.
Check your local building codes prior to installing temporary, pressurized walls. Apartment management companies and landlords in cities such as New York City sometimes institute policies outlawing the installation of floor-to-ceiling partitions. Research city rules and obtain necessary approvals from the building department before investing time and money installing a pressurized wall. Moreover, pressurized walls may be restricted according to size and location to allow unobstructed access to exit routes. If your municipality's building codes forbid temporary walls, use high bookcases or shorter partitions that do not reach ceiling height as alternatives.
Temporary pressurized walls can be removed at a later date without causing damage or leaving other permanent marks on the building if performed properly. Nationally syndicated newspaper columnist Tim Carter recommends inserting foam between the walls’ top and bottom plate faces and the connecting surfaces. Sill-plate sealer foam prevents air penetration around windows and doors, and between floors.
Additionally, measure the distance between the ceiling and floor to determine where you will need to cut the vertical wall stud before installing the wall. For doors in temporary walls, use quality weatherstripping to improve sound insulation. Since air carries noise, weatherstripping seals flanking paths and other gaps where air usually seeps through.
Avoid hanging heavy cabinets and other objects on temporary walls. Excess weight at the top of the wall can cause the structure to lean and ultimately topple over. Also, do not install electric wiring or outlets in temporary pressurized walls. Instead, power devices and other fixtures using electric outlets from existing, permanent walls. This reduces the risk of electrical shock and fire outbreaks. New York University’s housing department advises renters to avoid moving into apartments with illegal walls and apartment conversions. The university states, "This is not only unlawful but can also create life-threatening death traps."
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