Framing a wall, or building a basic wall, is a fundamental skill that will help you substantially change the footprint of your home. Framing is a simple and inexpensive project that does not require many specialized tools or materials: a hammer, nails, and wooden boards. Once the wall has been framed, you can add doors, windows, cladding, or plasterboard.
Basic wall components
A framed wall is a simple and flexible project. The precise positioning of the studs horizontally and vertically makes this design so durable.
The entire framed wall rests on a base consisting of a two-by-four-inch board. This plank slides horizontally and rests on the floor.
When a framed wall rests on concrete, the base of the wall must be made of pressure-treated wood to prevent deterioration of the wood due to moisture.
Seven two-by-eight-meter vertical studs are perpendicular to the floor plate. At the top, they connect to the top plates. The wall studs should be spaced 16 or 24 inches apart, depending on local standards and project requirements. In general, it is safest to space the studs every 16 inches.
Upper plates (horizontal)
Parallel to the lower plate is two upper plates, which are also two-storeyed. This plate connects to the top of the vertical posts and the ceiling.
If the wall framing also involves the removal of another wall, be sure to create a support system before removing the wall. For example, use adjustable steel columns (called lally columns or jack posts) with two-by-fours boards above and below the steel columns, or build a temporary wall with two-by-fours boards.
What you need
Equipment / Tools
- Carpenter’s hammer
- Quick square
- Chalk line
- Circular saw, or electric miter saw
- Powder nailer (for concrete floors)
- Safety goggles
- 10 high-quality boards of two by four meters, 8 feet each
- 16d (3 1/2 inch) nails
How to frame a wall
A framed wall requires vertical studs spaced 16 inches (or 24 inches in some cases) apart and two top panels and one bottom plate. For larger projects, calculate the number of materials with an online calculator or by hand.
Prepare a large floor area. The floor must be perfectly level. Some walls may be built, then installed after completion, but other interior projects may require on-site framing. If ceilings or floors are not levels, it is best to frame the wall by measuring each wall stud to the specific height of the intended location.
Stacking the boards
Choose the two-by-four boards you want to use for the wall panels. Place them on the edge, side by side. Then, using a square, make sure the ends are perfectly aligned.
Mark the position of the center studs on the panels.
Hang the end of the measuring tape on one end of the stacked plates. Run the tape, measure the panels’ length to the end, and attach it there. Using the pencil, mark every 16-inch increment on the dowel until you reach the end of the panel. Draw the mark across both panels with the angle.
These are the central positions of each vertical stud. Again, do not remove the tape measure.
Marking the Position of the Leading Edge Posts
To help position the vertical studs, mark the leading edge where you want each stud to start. To do this, mark 3/4 inch from each of the previous centering marks.
This way, a center measurement of 16 inches will also be measured back to 15 1/4 inches. Leave the center marks in place, but make an “X” to avoid confusion.
Continue the measurements on the face.
Rotate the board’s two-by-fours, a quarter turn each, so they now lie flat. Continue marking the faces with the quick square and a pencil.
Cutting the dowels
Cut the vertical posts with the electric saw to the preferred height of the wall minus the thickness of the three boards. For example, if you want the wall to be 8 feet high, cut the uprights to a length of 91 1/2 inches (96 inches minus 4 1/2 inches).
Drying the studs and boards
Loosely attach the stud wall with the squared lumber set on the edge, with two panels on top and one on the bottom. Note each vertical stud to determine the direction of the crown or curve. Set them up vertically with the crown facing up. If the crown of one post is different from the other posts, remove it from this project.
Rear top corner plate (optional)
Align the two top panels if this is a single wall. If, on the other hand, the wall is to be connected at a 90-degree angle to another wall you are framing, move the top panel to the back.
Leave the bottom panel of the two top panels full length. The panel that rests on this should be cut 3 1/2 inches shorter. If the lower top panel is 96 inches long, the top panel should be 92 1/2 inches long. This will allow the adjacent corner wall to fit over the top.
Attach all the pieces.
Nail the studs between the top and bottom panels, using two nails per end. If you are attaching the top plate at this time, nail it in place over each vertical stud location.
Raising the wall
Draw a chalk line on the floor where you want to attach the wall panel. Then, using a helper, tilt the wall frame and position it along the chalk line.
Fixing a corner
If the wall meets another framed wall at a corner, glue them together to form an L. Drive the nails into the two adjacent boards about every 24 inches. Using construction anchors to secure the walls if you are joining two new walls at a corner that still need to be installed.
Fastening to the floor
For joist wood subfloors, nail the wall frame to the floor through the floorboard with two nails in each available joist. The joists are not visible. They are located under the subfloor. Nail between the joists as well, if possible.
Top plate finish (optional)
If the wall is to be kept straight over a long section, it will be necessary to attach several wall elements. In this case, attach the double top plate at the end, setting it back 1.5 meters.
The perfect way to do this is to leave the top plate unattached until the framing is in place. Then run two-by-four-meter plates over each wall break, centering them on each break at the midpoints.
Tips for framing a wall
- Carefully measure and mark the hanger bolt positions on the plates. When later installing panels, such as plywood or gypsum board, these materials will depend on the exact alignment of the hanger bolts.
- If the wall framing includes windows and doors, it’s best to incorporate them during installation rather than adding them after the fact. To frame a wall with a door or window, mark its location and install the rest of the wall framing around it.
- For small installations like a shed, it may be helpful to install the sheathing over the wall framing while the framing is still level on the ground. The sheathing will help you force the wall framing into a square position.
- When attaching the top plates, nail only to the stud positions. If you nail between the studs, it is more difficult for electricians and plumbers to drill through the plates.
- Frame one corner of the interior wall by nailing another plank to the back to provide an attachment surface for the edge of the drywall.
When to call in a professional
Small interior installations that don’t support the weight from above are ideal for DIY. However, larger wall framing projects, especially those involving exterior walls, often need to be handled by professional framers or carpenters.
Permits and Codes
Most communities require a building permit before building a wall. If you contact your permit office, framing a wall may be part of a larger project, such as turning a garage into a living space. It may also fall under the general definition of interior space alteration, whether structural or not.
In any case, whether the wall to be framed is load-bearing (as in the case of a partition), a building permit and corresponding inspections are most likely required.