How to Build a Man Cave


Man Caves / Made simple!

The construction of a man’s, Man Cave, is one of the most entertaining adventures for the novice homeowner or even the most professional contractor. The term is indicative of what all men would love, a cave to do whatever they want! Most of the time that entails drinking beer and watching sports. The discussion within this website, is meant to entertain the creative side of anyone considering the construction of their own Man Cave. This is not a discussion regarding the best entertainment centers and surround sound systems available, nor is it an attempt to provide any insight into some of the new technologies that have been recently developed, that enables monitors to interact with viewers and other extreme technology advances. There are virtual reality technologies, that establish the illusion of actually partaking in the action that is displayed on the video monitors, by virtual reality glasses, helmets and other products that are in the development stages.

I recommend that the homeowner spend some time or even considerable time, creatively searching the web for all the new advancements in technology that are possible for your future Man Cave. A very brief list of the new technologies is as follows;

a.) Television monitors / The development of television monitors is constantly changing. Anyone that has purchased a monitor in the last several years, understands that technology is advancing at such a rate, that once you decide on the purchase, the monitor is already outdated. There are several programs becoming popular that allow you to purchase the television with the option to update, as the technology advances. Of course this comes with a price, however this maybe the only method of actually staying up with the current advancements in televisions. There are several successful websites that will introduce you to the development of the visual side of your Man Cave! This is an exciting time to research and interact, especially with the new blue tooth capable internet connections that enable interactive participation in your favorite sport or sports. The high definition of today will only be replaced with a more high definition tomorrow. I expect that this development trend will continue for the unforeseeable future.

b.) Surround sound / like the television monitors, the advancement of speaker systems, blue tooth technology, as well as the quantity of online audio services is ever expanding. Once again, similar to the television, the purchase of a surround sound system that also has the capability of being updated, is a tremendous asset, again, it will cost money. The best method to research and investigate all the systems is by initially searching the web. Once some selections or decisions are made, a visit to the local audio store is recommended to actually listen and control the equipment. Once you have selected an audio system to interact with the visual stimulus of an advanced monitor or even monitors, your enjoyment of your favorite sports will be tremendously enhanced.

c.) Seating / Seating is not quite as advanced and influenced by an ever changing technology. However the selection of your chairs to be used within your Man Cave are extremely important. I personally have a favorite type as well as manufacturer of my chairs, however there are several different products that are specifically developed for the Man Cave. This is a personal selection, and the number of adjustments, the number of beverage holders, as well as the selected material that makes up the chair, are all personal preferences that will require research and product testing. The research and product testing of the chairs is an activity that you can enjoy with your spouse of favorite girlfriend, or both! Women have a tendency to enjoy the selection of furniture in lieu of the selection of audio visual equipment. In an effort to involve your better half, this may be a perfect opportunity! Obviously your comfort is determined by the chairs you select and no matter how sophisticated your audio, visual systems are, where you sit or lie down, will determine how comfortable the entire room will be.

These three items, are the items that we are not going to try and discuss in this presentation on Man Caves. These items are changing constantly, and technology and research are making the next generation product available almost as soon as you make a purchase. Research on the internet and by visiting the stores displaying the products, is the only method of selecting these elements of the Man Cave that will accommodate your individual tastes. The choice of monitors, surround sound and comfortable chairs and couches will dictate how impressive your Man Cave is!

Research carefully, and enjoy your selections!

Items we can be more specific on;

1.) Location / the location of the new Man Cave is important, and is based upon the type of home or situation that you find yourself in. If you own your own home, then the Man Cave can be accommodated as a permanent addition to the home. If you are renting, then the development of the Man Cave will be more on the portable side. We will briefly discuss this later on in this presentation.

Assuming that you own your home;

Basement / if the home has a basement, then the Man Cave can certainly be located in the basement. Any home, whether it is a colonial, ranch, cape or contemporary, that has a basement qualifies. If the decision is to construct the Man Cave in the basement the following must be considered.

1.) Size of the Man Cave .

The size of the Man Cave is dependent upon the how many individuals will be commonly using the Cave. If this is a personal area that, you alone, will use, then the area can be quite small. However, I have found that there are very few situations that the Cave is only designed for one occupant. If this is the case, then a closet with proper ventilation can be used.

Assuming that the Cave will be designed to accommodate at least ( 4 ) occupants, the size of the room should be a minimum of 14 feet by 20 feet. I realize that this appears large, however the Cave must not feel claustrophobic, and must allow plenty of room for socializing.

This is what the Cave is being built for!

2.) Construction of the Man Cave .

The construction of the Cave in the basement area, must first concentrate on the floor and the separation of the finished floor from the basement slab.

a.) Floor

Concrete basement slabs are cold and damp due to the humidity that collects in the basement level of the home. The floor must be insulated from the concrete floor and raised above any moisture build up on the concrete’s surface. The installation of a dry panel, which is a particle board panel with synthetic dimples on the underside. These dimples keep the particle board off the surface of the concrete and provides an air space for ventilation as well as moisture build up. The underside of these panels are waterproofed to prevent the penetration of moisture up through the particle board. Normally these dry basement panels are available in 4 foot by 4 foot pieces for easy installation. If there is ample head room for the installation of a layer of rigid foam board over the particle board, this is recommended. The more insulation between the occupants feet and the concrete slab the better. Normally I would recommend the installation of sleepers over the particle board. The sleepers should be sized to accommodate the insulation board. Once the sleepers and the insulation board are installed, a second layer of either particle board or plywood is installed. If the elevations of the basement area allow, this assembly for the basement floor is a perfect flooring application. Over the top of the final layer of sheathing can be installed any flooring material including carpet, wood, tile, etc. If this is the design of the floor, then the accommodation for wiring within this assembly is possible. The easiest and most hidden method of hard wiring controllers and equipment is through the floor. The actual wires can rise up under cabinetry or whatever type of structure is used to mount your monitors and other equipment on . Additional wiring is recommended, if you are fortunate to have a built up floor system. Future equipment may require wiring that will be required in the future. If the actual wiring is not installed then separate pull strings can be installed within the built up floor system to facilitate the installation of future wiring.

c.) Walls

The walls of the Cave should be constructed of 2 X 6 studs spaced 16 inches on center. The reason for the wide studs is to accommodate as much sound insulation as possible. This sound insulation will be used to segregate the sounds from the Cave, from the remainder of the home. I would recommend that sheetrock be applied to the exterior of the framed Cave. Once the sheetrock is installed, either a fiberglass batt insulation or an open foam insulation should be installed to insulate the space. This insulation will provide a great sound barrier to the entire room Once the open cell foam insulation is installed or the fiberglass batts, a layer of rigid foam insulation should be installed over the framing at the interior space of the room. Once the rigid insulation is installed, then the interior layer of sheetrock should be applied. If the equipment is to be mounted on the walls the installation of wood blocking should be coordinated with the equipment such as monitors for proper mounting on the walls. If there is any type of indication that future monitor installations will be required, the owner of the Cave may decide to install plywood over the entire interior surface of the walls, to allow installation of monitors, equipment, speakers, shelving or any other wall hung items anywhere within the Cave.

d.) Ceilings

The ceilings of the Cave are just as important as the walls for sound attenuation. It is my recommendation that the ceilings be fully insulated with a fiberglass batt insulation, or the open cell foam used on the walls. Once the ceilings are fully insulated I would suggest another layer of rigid foam board to further diminish the sound in the room. As with in construction of the walls, the ceiling assembly is a perfect wiring chase for ceiling lighting, speaker wires, equipment wires, etc. If the elevation of the basement is ample, the installation of ventilation ductwork can also be accommodated within the ceiling space. This distribution of air throughout the ceiling, if the space allows , is a perfect condition for the installation of the Cave’s individual heating and cooling equipment.

e.) Heating and cooling equipment

The advancement of heating and cooling is a constantly evolving technology. The ductless systems have advanced to the point that a single system for the Cave can be installed, to properly control the temperature of the environment within the Cave itself. I will not recommend any brands of ductless heating and cooling, but there are several that will satisfy the needs of your Man Cave. If ductless heating and cooling is not selected, the extension of the primary homes, heating and cooling could be modified to accommodate the Cave. The installation of separate electric baseboard and a separate cooling unit could also accommodate the temperature control within the Cave. It is recommended that a professional consultant be engaged to properly direct you in the most efficient method of temperature control in your Man Cave.

f.) Humidor

The selection of the proper humidor for your favorite cigars is also recommended. Again, like the audio video systems within the Man Cave, the selection of the proper humidor for your Cave is a personal choice. How many cigars, how many smokers, will all influence the size and the type of the selected humidor for your Cave. A visit to your local cigar store is recommended to seek advice and to match the recommended humidor to your smoking habits.

g.) Cigar room ventilation

The use of what has been referred to as super fans is recommended to accommodate the air quality within the Man Cave. Ventilation within a room is dependent upon the number of air changes as well as the filtering systems. Cigar room ventilation is a specialized application and there are numerous manufacturers of these systems. It is recommended that a smoking room nearest you be visited, not only for the selection of your favorite cigars, but to research the ventilation systems within the smoking room . In many cases, the local cigar store has the latest in technology for smoking areas and this information can be obtained by a simple shopping trip to this cigar store.

h.) Standard ventilation

The ventilation in a Man Cave is an important element that influences the comfort of the inhabitants. Not being sexist, but the gathering of testosterone males, watching football and eating spicy wings and the like can generate less than fragrant air quality. The ventilation of this environment is important to all the inhabitants as well as any additional guests, that may not qualify for the identification as a testosterone induced male! The standard ventilation of any Man Cave should at least be serviced by a strong ventilation fan that is ducted to the exterior of the home. Don’t forget the need to fresh air into the Man Cave. It is recommended that there be a fresh air intake directly linked to the exterior of the home, as well as an exhaust, directly venting to the outside. This situation is easily accomplished if the Cave is located against an exterior wall of the home or basement.

i.) Life safety

The need for life safety devices such as smoke detectors, fire alarm, carbon dioxide monitors is especially important in the Man Cave environment.

j.) Refrigeration & cooking appliances

Depending on the use of the Man Cave, the installation of refrigeration as well as cooking appliances is a matter of individual taste and the use of the room. It would be a wonderful thing if the Man Cave can be constructed to be totally independent of the rest of the home, however, this is rarely a possibility. A small refrigerator is a must for the Cave, however the additional cooking appliances maybe something that can be saved for the future. Again, depending on the use of the Cave will determine the importance of establishing a full kitchen for the occupants use.

k.) Toilet facilities

If the budget is limitless, what better provision within the Man Cave than its own toilet facilities. This could incorporate a toilet and sink or a full blown bathroom inclusive of shower or ever steam room. Of course the installation of a toilet facility to the Man Cave will cause the budget to swell, however, the elimination of Man Cave occupants using the families facilities, may have its balancing considerations.

l.) Sleeping facilities

Now we have hit the ultimate in Man Cave accoutrements. Consider the scenerio, a Man Cave is constructed that has a kitchen as well as bathroom facilities. Isn’t the next logical step sleeping accommodations for the occupants. Granted, we have now reached the ultimate in Man Cave possibilities and have basically constructed a separate apartment. If this is in the budget and will logically service the occupants of the Man Cave, then it makes sense to construct the Man Cave in this fashion.

Attic

The installation of the permanent Man Cave in the attic of the home will have the same considerations as the installation of the Cave in the basement as noted previously. The following special differences should be noted;

a.) Access

The attic may present a special access problem that was not considered in the basement space. How do you get to the attic? Obviously if there is an interior stair that has been constructed to the attic, the access is easily solved. If the access is currently just a pull down stair, then the space for a full staircase will be required. The best accommodation for an interior staircase to the attic is usually in a small bedroom or within a closet area. The access will need to accommodate a legally constructed staircase which will require a maximum of an 8 inch rise with a minimum of a 10 inch tread. As has been noted in a number of places within this website, the size of the staircase opening will be determined by the height of the rise required to move from the floor of the floor below the attic to the attic floor. This height must be divided by the maximum of 8 inches for the allowed riser height which will determine the number of steps required. Once this calculation has been performed, the number of required treads can be multiplied by the minimum tread depth of 10 inches. This will provide the length of the space required to accommodate the stair. If room allows, a 42 inch width for each tread will accommodate access to the attic very nicely. If needed, in most municipalities, the width can be reduced to 36 inches if needed.

If it is physically impossible to accommodate an interior staircase, the construction of an exterior staircase to the attic space can be considered. Dependent upon the budget as well as the importance of establishing the Man Cave, the construction of an exterior staircase, specifically devoted to accessing the Cave can be a very costly endeavor. However, this is a personal consideration and if the budget can accommodate a 15 to 20 thousand dollar line item for exterior access, the option is a great method of properly and legally accessing your Man Cave.

b.) Ventilation

The ventilation of the Man Cave in the attic is a simpler operation than trying to ventilate the basement space. The location of the Cave in the attic, allows the ventilation, both fresh air and exhaust to enter and exit straight out of the roof , gable ends or the eaves. The ability to adequately ventilate the space is easily accomplished in the attic area in many different ways. The roof can be opened up with waterproof vents, the gable ends of the roof can have an automatic louver installed and flexible ductwork can be run down to the open eaves along the perimeter. Ventilation in the attic can also be accomplished quite spectacularly with skylights opening directly to the exterior. As noted in the discussion on ventilation for the basement, the ventilation within the Man Cave is exceptionally important, to have it located on the top of all the other living areas in the home will make the elimination of odors, smoke and whatever else is presented by the inhabitants of the Cave away from the remainder of the home is easily performed.

c.) Noise attenuation

The elimination of noise from the attic area is a little more important to the sanity of the remaining household, due to the fact that the Cave is located above the other living areas. Any pounding of the feet or excited stamping will produce vibrations throughout the home causing more interference with normal life than if the location of the Cave was in the basement. The elimination of vibrations is only achieved by constructing a heavy floor assembly that will be able to absorb the vibrations and reduce the noise. The installation of open cell insulation in the floor assembly and the securing of at least two layers of plywood or ply-score sheathing will reduce the noise. If there is room, the installation of a rubber gasket over the tops of the existing floor joists, prior to the installation of the plywood sheathing will further reduce the vibrations as well as the noise transmission.

d.) Special considerations

The construction of a Man Cave in the attic of a home offers various considerations that are not possible in the basement location. We have already indicated the possibility of the installation of skylights into the roof to offer wide open ventilation, sunlight and openness to the Cave. However, the installation of the Cave in the attic also opens up the opportunity to link an open porch deck to this Cave. If the Cave is set back in the roof, then there maybe opportunity to construct an open area alongside the Cave to allow occupants to smoke their cigars and congregate on the exterior deck.

e.) Flooring insulation

The temperature and humidity considerations that needed to be identified and dealt with, in the basement discussions, are not as critical if the Man Cave is constructed in the attic. There are no additional moisture or humidity concerns, due to moist air in the attic space, and normally the heat from the home will rise up to warm the floor of the new Man Cave. This warmth, of course, will be diminished if the room’s floor is insulated to prevent sound transmission. However, the concerns noted for the floor of a room in the basement is not a consideration for a room in an attic space.

Temporary Man Cave within a rented or leased property.

Yes, with some creativity and ambition, a Man Cave can be established within a rented or leased property. Obviously the condition of the space must be returned to its original state if a Man Cave is constructed on a property that is rented or leased. Listed are some suggestions.

a.) Select a room that is not being used as a bedroom, office or study.

b.) If there are no additional rooms available, then the decision must be made, as to which room can be either sacrificed or honored, ( based on your point of view ), to be the Man Cave.

c.) Once the room is selected, the installation of heavy drapery or blankets on all walls is recommended. The best alternative to finding some sound attenuation blankets is to visit the local big box stores to secure blankets or bedding that can be used to drape around the exterior walls.

d.) It is recommended that an inexpensive carpet be installed in the selected room. The best application of the carpet is to secure the carpet with double sided tape along the perimeter of the room. This will reduce the ambient noise within the room.

e.) The installation of the monitor and surround sound systems can either be installed within an inexpensive entertainment center, or mounted on a piece of plywood, supported by a framework. I personally prefer the installation of the equipment on a temporary piece of plywood with inexpensive shelving applied to the plywood sheathing. This entire assembly can be painted black to accommodate the utility aspect of the room and make for a more interesting and creative appearance.

f.) Any windows in the room should be heavily draped or have light blocking shades installed. If the sunlight is bright within the room, then blackout paper should be installed over the clear glass. The windows should still be allowed to open and close for ventilation. To enhance ventilation in the room, the installation of an inexpensive window fan will assist in the movement of air within the room. In many cases, the installation of this window fan should be in the upper sash to move the air over the top of the room’s inhabitants. The installation of a separate air conditioning unit will also help with the movement of air, and assist in the control of the temperature within your temporary Cave.

g.) It is not recommended that any provisions for smoking be provided in a rented or leased environment, due to the damage that smoking will do on the finishes in the room. In addition, the inability to filter the air and properly supply air flow will cause the room to retain the odor of the smoking. This will not help when you are looking for the retainer back when leaving the rented or leased space.

Obviously the use of a rented space does not allow for the most professional construction of your Man Cave. However, the attempt to establish a special place, to enjoy beer and sports, can be created in a fashion that will not jeopardize the integrity of the lease agreement.

A little of a good thing, is better than none at all.

So, in summary, what have we learned regarding the construction of our Man Cave

1.) The development, research and investigation should be a fun hobby for any man considering developing his Man Cave.

2.) The professional information gained by visiting various establishments that offer similar elements of your desired Man Cave is mandatory. There are several local establishments that will offer a live demonstration of both the audio and visual possibilities of a Man Cave. Of course, there are those that might consider this element of research an excuse to party and drink beer, however, for this discussion, it is mandatory to properly design your own Man Cave.

3.) If possible, the Man Cave should be installed with its separate entry within the attic space of the home. Of course this location will cost more than establishing the Man Cave elsewhere in the home, however, the attic will afford a great opportunity for ventilation, access as well as privacy. I am sure that there are several readers of this discussion that have not even considered the attic for their Man Cave! Please, take a new look at the possibilities, you might be surprised.

4.) The establishment of a Man Cave will reduce the stress of family living on the bread winner of the family. Sorry, I got carried away, the construction of a Man Cave will provide a great opportunity for the other occupants of the home to go on a shopping spree to make up for the expense of the Man Cave!

5.) The construction of the Man Cave within the home is a great method for keeping the user of the Man Cave at home. Remember, if the audio, visual, beverage and comfort experience is available at home, there will be no reason to stray to other establishments.

Have fun! and remember that the creation of the Man Cave will benefit all members of the family! At least that is what I have been telling my WIFE!

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