How to Frame an Interior Stud Wall
Welcome to our two-part series on how to build a partition wall. Whether you are building a new closet, a home office, remodeling a bathroom, or redesigning some interior space, many home improvement projects require the construction of a non-weight bearing interior wall.
The first job is to construct a sturdy wood stud wall frame. The second, which we will discuss in part two, is adding the insulation and installing the drywall. Unfortunately, since walls come in so many different sizes and angles, we will simply be going through the basics of frame construction. We are making a simple, no frills, flat wall.
Though the frame you build will eventually be buried behind drywall and paint, making exact measurements and not taking short cuts while building the frame is the best way to avoid problems later on down the road.
You’ll have to do some math and some shopping before starting this project. First, you’ll need some basic equipment:
• Tape measurer
• Straight edge
• 10’ ladder (depending on the project)
• 2 saw horses
• Electric saw
• Electric screwdriver or a hammer
• 4” inch screws or nails
Other than screws or nails, the only other material you’ll need to buy is wood.
Here is where the math comes in: measure the length of your desired wall in inches, then divide by 16. You’ll be placing studs, vertical 2x4’s every 16 inches for support, so the wall’s length divided by 16 will tell you the number of 2x4’s you will need for studs.
1. Choosing the right length for the studs will also take some math, since buying them the right length, or close, will save you both money and time. Measure the height of your intended wall, then subtract 6 inches from the total. This number is the ideal height (or length) for your stud 2x4’s.
2. Holding the vertical studs in place across the top and bottom of the wall are horizontal 2x4’s known as wall plates. This link also illustrates the relationship between studs and plates.
Buy two 2x4’s the same length as your intended wall to serve as plates. These plates are why you subtracted 6 inches from the height of your studs. 2x4 are 2 inches tall, with one across the top and one across the bottom that adds 4 inches to your studs’ height. If you’re adding onto another portion of wall, or creating a corner, you will add another 2x4 on top for support, adding another 2 inches of height, bringing your total to 6 additional inches that you have to account for in advance. So again, total wall height minus 6 inches will be the right height (or length) for your studs, and your plates will be the length of your desired wall.
3. So now you have a bunch of 2x4’s cut to length for studs, and for the plates. Lay the plates across your saw horses, take your tape measurer and mark out 16 inch intervals across the length of your plates. At each interval, make another notch 3/4th of an inch back. This 3/4th of an inch will account for the depth of the studs, and the space inbetween marks where the stud will actually lie against the plate. Mark that space with an ‘x’ to make it more noticeable.
4. Lay your plates down on the floor, and match up the studs with your ‘x’ marks. Make sure the top and bottom of the studs are flush with the plates. What you should have now is your vertical studs 16 inches apart, with the horizontal plates running across the heads and bottoms, as shown in the link above. Make sure that all your measurements and markings are exact, and that the plates are flush against the studs and all the studs are even in height. All your studs should meet the plates at 90 degree angles.
5. Drive two screws or nails through the plates and into the head of each stud, securing the stud to the plate. Then do the same across the bottom wall plate. Once all the studs are firmly secured to the top and bottom plates, you are done framing!
If you are planning on installing electrical outlets on your new wall, you may want to contact a licensed electrician for that job.