Creating rooms starts with building walls the right way.
Remodeling a home usually consists of removing and building walls. These are both jobs that a motivated DIYer can take on and save some money in the process. Building a wall starts with assembling and installing the frame, which are the 2×4-inch lumber stock that the wall is constructed from. Here’s an overview of how to frame a wall from licensed carpenter Mark Clement of MyFixItUpLife.
DETERMINE WALL LAYOUT
The first step in building a partition wall is to determine if the wall is running horizontal or perpendicular to your ceiling joists. The only tools required are a tape measure, stud finder, and knowledge of how to get studs at 16-inches on center. You need to know how you’ll connect the plates (horizontal pieces top and bottom) to the floor and ceiling. Both need to be connected to solid wood. If you’re lucky and the wall is running parallel to the ceiling joists, you can fasten directly to a joist (if it works for your layout). If your plate falls between joists, you’ll need to remove drywall and install blocking so the plate is fastened to something solid.
If the wall is running perpendicular to the ceiling joists, you can locate the ceiling joists above and fasten to them through the drywall. Use screws so you are certain you’ve connected with the framing. There is no need to remove the drywall.
Ideally, you’d do the same thing for the studs that hit the existing wall—catch a stud or add blocking (it’s often called ‘ladder blocking‘).
The last thing you want is wood moving around because it is improperly fastened. Theoretically, you could use fasteners and glue at the wall intersection, but it’s probably more trouble than it’s worth. And stick with wood studs instead of metal, wood is easier to cut, fasten, and adjust, whereas metal studs can be a real headache.
WHERE TO START
Install the bottom plate, then use it as a control point to plumb up to the top plate and mark its location. Next install the top plate, then the wall studs.
Mark the bottom plate for stud locations, then measure their length, cut and install using a nail gun and a level.
Check out Mark’s video for framing a basement wall, for a more in-depth demonstration of wall building techniques.
INSTALLING A WINDOW OR DOOR IN THE WALL
For a window or door, pick a size that looks right in the space. Using cardboard to help visualize can help quite a bit. Then, when framing, don’t frame too ‘tight’. Leave enough room to install the window or door—at least ½-inch all the way around—and make adjustments using shims once it’s in the opening.
Once your wall is built and attached, you can rough-in the wiring, which prepares your wall for outlets once the drywall is up.
DRYWALL, MUD, AND PAINT
The final step is putting up the drywall, mudding and taping it together seamlessly, and painting it. This last step requires patience, and experience always helps for best results. If you need a little bit of both, let our 18-step drywall guide lead the way.