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[icon] Minor engineering project advice - Patti
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Subject:Minor engineering project advice
Time:12:28 am
My loft has an exterior concrete wall, and two great big old warehouse-style windows. You can sort of see one of them in a badly-exposed photo here, and another view here The other is pretty much exactly the same.

The windows are old old old single-pane things, one of them doesn't close completely, and they leak air like a sieve. They have honeycomb blinds installed, and those help, but I think I want to put drapes over them as well to help keep the place warm.

The problem? The ceiling and walls are both 80-year-old concrete, and I'm not sure what the easiest/best way is too mount curtain rods. Ideally I'd like something that could be done without drilling, but I have no idea if there are any adhesives that might work. I'm fairly flexible on what kind of rod, and I don't care if it's fastened to the wall, the side posts, or the ceiling.

Suggestions?
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rmd
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Time:2008-12-22 01:08 pm (UTC)
i would probably try to mount a wooden board above the window and fasten the curtain rod to that.

as for fastening the board, does "no drilling" include "no hammering"? if so, hardened concrete nails would probably go in fine. otherwise, i'd go with liquid nails (aka "construction adhesive").

ETA: actually, i'd still use liquid nails on the back of the board even if using concrete nails.


Edited at 2008-12-22 01:09 pm (UTC)
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slfisher
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Time:2008-12-22 04:05 pm (UTC)
any reason why you're not replacing the windows?
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whipartist
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Time:2008-12-22 04:56 pm (UTC)
(a) It's a HOA responsibility, not mine.
(b) It costs like $15K per window to do it, if I remember correctly.
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jcdill
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Time:2008-12-22 04:32 pm (UTC)
My recollection of your windows is that they are roughly 8-12 feet across. Curtains, even light-weight curtains, weigh quite a bit when you add up enough fabric to cover these windows. Most curtain rods of this length have support brackets mid-way along (every 18-24 inches) as well as attaching to each end, in order to support the weight of the curtains without the rod sagging in the middle. Due to the age of your loft's concrete, you may need to drill as well as use liquid nails to properly attach the rod supports. If you just use liquid nails you run the risk of the curtain rod support pulling a chunk of concrete off the wall.

If this were my loft, I wouldn't try using concrete nails (without drilling) on the concrete walls - I could see that turning into a big pile of concrete debris and a hole in your wall - if not during installation then later on (probably in the middle of the night - these things always seem to happen in the middle of the night) when the weight of the curtains strains the fractured concrete beyond its tolerance. Once one fails, the rest will fail like dominoes. If you don't want to drill then your best bet is to use liquid concrete to glue up a long wooden board i.e. 1x6 the length of your curtain rod. This will distribute the pull along all the concrete under the wood. Paint it to match the loft walls, then screw the curtain supports to the 1x6.

I dunno - this still sounds too risky. Maybe you could glue the beam to the wall, then drill and bolt it to further secure it? This way the beam helps hold the concrete as you drill - no chipping and cracking of the surface of the concrete as you drill.

What would it cost to replace the windows? When you replace the windows have the opening framed with wood beams (painted to match the concrete), and then the wood becomes your attachment point for blinds and drapes. I know this would take a hefty chunk of change, but the loft is looking AWESOME (in the photos you posted) and I think new windows would be the crowning touch to your remodeling. I'm sure you already know you will save $$$ on your heating bills with new (insulated) windows.
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whipartist
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Time:2008-12-22 04:57 pm (UTC)
Window replacement cost is about $15K per, I think, and it's a HOA responsibility not mine. (And no, I can't just get them to do it. Windows are a perpetual issue, and our finances don't allow it.)
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whipartist
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Time:2008-12-23 12:47 am (UTC)
Oh, and it's a historic preservation district, which limits the externally-visible changes that can be made to the building.
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jcdill
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Time:2008-12-23 10:51 am (UTC)
Have any of the other tenants replaced the windows? Have any paid for it themselves, or had the HOA pay for it?

Even if it "should" be a HOA responsibility, if it improves the value of your unit it might be a good investment to go ahead and do it yourself. I could totally imagine that if there were 2 identical lofts and one had the old, poorly sealed windows, and the other had new, double pane insulated windows, that the second loft would be worth more than the cost of the window upgrade. Plus, you know you will save on utilities.

Maybe you could get them to reduce your HOA fees by a small amount each month until the cost is "paid for", or agree to repay you for the improvement before they agree to do the same for any other unit (since you funded the improvement out of your own pocket).
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whipartist
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Time:2008-12-23 04:40 pm (UTC)
None of the other units have. One or two have had windows replaced, but those were WAY worse than mine.

I can't afford to drop $30K out of pocket to replace windows right now, so it's irrelevant. Save on utilities would probably be about $100/year, which gives me a payback period of something like 300 years.
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whipartist
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Time:2008-12-22 09:23 pm (UTC)
I actually want summer curtains and winter curtains. The summer ones are very light net, just enough to let me walk around nekkid without horrifying the neighbors.

I'm OK with dark. The loft is dark in the winter anyway, and I'm mostly only home when it's dark outside.
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frankbrabec
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Time:2008-12-22 09:22 pm (UTC)
I'd check out how the blinds are fastened to the concrete. Perhaps there are anchors already installed in the wall, and you could use them to attach brackets for the drapes (just by getting longer screws/bolts). As suggested, use plenty of brackets, not just one on either end, or you will have sagging on such a wide run.

Frank/ADB NUT-Z Home Repairs
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spicole
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Time:2008-12-22 09:26 pm (UTC)
Revisit the "no drilling" assumption. Buy yourself a rechargeable drill for the holidays, drill some holes, and tack in some screw anchors. Fasten blinds to said anchors.
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whipartist
Link:(Link)
Time:2008-12-22 09:28 pm (UTC)
What's wrong with the three drills I already have? One of them is a DeWalt rechargable hammer drill. That doesn't mean I *want* to stand up on top of a tall ladder drilling holes in concrete, mind you, but I will if I have to.
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[icon] Minor engineering project advice - Patti
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