How to frame a wall

An interior wall is typically built from 2-by-4 or 2-by-6 wall studs and framing, covered with panels of gypsum drywall that are nailed or screwed to the framing members.

How to Build a New Wall: Summary

  1. Locate the new wall.
  2. Attach a top plate to the ceiling framing.
  3. Use a plumb bob to position a bottom (“sole”) plate directly beneath the top plate, and nail it to the floor.
  4. Install wall studs between the top and bottom plates on 16- or 24-inch centers.
  5. Nail or screw drywall to the studs and plates.
  6. Apply cornerbead, drywall tape and compound to hide the joints and fasteners.

Many remodeling projects involve building or relocating one or more interior walls. Building a nonbearing interior wall is relatively easy, requiring just basic carpentry skills and tools.

Depending on the nature of your existing floor, walls, and ceiling, you may have to peel away some surface materials to provide for secure attachment at the top, bottom, and ends of the new wall. If the new wall won’t butt into studs at the connecting wall or fall directly beneath a ceiling joist, you must install nailing blocks between the framing pieces.

A typical interior wall has a skeleton of vertical 2-by-4 studs that stand between horizontal 2-by-4 base and top plates. (However, if a wall will contain extensive plumbing, it should be built from 2-by-6 studs and plates.)

The framework is typically covered with gypsum wallboard or lath and plaster; in a bathroom, with water-resistant “green” wallboard and tile backerboard and tile.

Following are the steps for framing a wall. After you finish the framing, refer to the links above right for the techniques used for cutting and attaching drywall or paneling. If this looks like the work will be beyond your skills or if you don’t have the necessary tools, hire a framing contractor or carpenter to do the work.

Building an Interior Wall: Step-by-Step

To begin, mark the center line of the new wall across the ceiling. Then measure and mark half the width of the new wall’s top plate in each direction. Snap a chalk line between these marks. Plan one stud at each end and, if an end meets a wall, measure 15 1/4 inches to locate the inside edge of the first intermediate stud and then 16 inches to the same edge of each additional stud.

How to frame a wall

1 On the floor, lay the top and bottom plates side by side. Carefully measure where each wall stud will go and mark perpendicular lines across the plates, using a combination square so the studs will align perfectly. 1. Start with the top and bottom plates.

How to frame a wall

2 Locate the joists in the ceiling (here we’ve shown the drywall on the ceiling removed for clarity’s sake). Hold the top plate in position along the guideline marked on the ceiling and nail through the ceiling material and into each joist with two 3 1/2-inch nails. (If the new wall runs parallel to the joists, fasten the plate to nailing blocks installed between the joists.) 2. Install the top plate.

How to frame a wall

3 Hang a plumb bob from each end of the top plate on the ceiling to just above the floor and then mark the floor to establish the bottom plate’s location directly below it. Snap a chalk line along the floor between the marks as a guide for the bottom plate’s edge. Nail the plate with 3-inch nails staggered and spaced every 16 inches. 3. Install the bottom plate.

How to frame a wall

4 Use stud-framing clips to install each wall stud. Lift the stud into position and line it up on its mark, flush with the edges of the top and bottom plates. Check plumb using a carpenter’s level, and nail the stud into place. (Alternatively, you can toenail each stud to both the top and bottom plate with 2 1/2-inch nails, but this is harder to do if you’re inexperienced.) 4. Attach each wall stud.

How to frame a wall

5 Form the connections and corners. Where one wall intersects another, double up studs to receive the intersecting wall. If the wall will turn a corner, frame it with two full-length studs that have blocks sandwiched in between. 5. Double up studs where walls meet.

There are multiple ways to frame a wall. You could install the top and bottom plates, then toenail the studs to the plates. Or, if you have enough space, you can assemble the pieces together on the floor. This method allows you to nail through the bottom and top plates directly into the bottom and top of the studs, which is much easier than toenailing. Then you can tip the wall up and move it into position. We’ll show you how to frame a wall using the latter method.

Set aside roughly an hour to frame an 8 x 8 foot wall. Additional footage will require more time. Before you begin, make sure you know how to measure, mark, crosscut, and drive nails. Prep for the project by installing the wall’s ceiling plate.

  • Start to finish 1 hr
  • Difficulty Kind of Hard
  • Involves Measuring, Driving Nails, Sawing

What you need

  • Tape measure Qty: 0
  • Layout square Qty: 0
  • Circular saw Qty: 0
  • Hammer Qty: 0
  • Chalk line Qty: 0
  • Plumb bob Qty: 0
  • 16d nails Qty: 0
  • 2×4 boards Qty: 9

How to do it

Part 1

Determine Wall Height

Measure from the underside of the ceiling plate to the floor to determine the wall height. Check in several places and use the smallest dimension as the height.

Cut Plates and Studs

Cut the plates and the studs to length. The length of the studs should be 3 inches less than the wall height you just determined. This allows for the thickness of two 2×4 plates (1 1/2 inches each).

Mark Stud Spacing

Hold the plates side by side to mark the spacing for the studs. The first stud will be offset by 3/4 inch; then make a mark every 16 inches to indicate the centers of the studs. Measure 3/4 inch on both sides of each mark and draw lines to show where the sides of the studs will be.

How to Space Studs

Laying out the positions of the studs in a wall is a crucial step in construction. Get it right and installing drywall is easy; make a mistake and you’ll have problems.

The most common spacing is 16 inches on center (OC). This means the distance from the center of one stud to the center of the next is 16 inches. The space between studs that are 16 inches OC is 14-1/2 inches. The first and last studs in a wall are exceptions to the rule. The first stud is shifted over 3/4 inch as its centerline corresponds with the end of the wall, so its side is flush with the ends of the plates. This makes the space between the first and second studs 13-3/4 inches.

The last stud in the wall may or may not be spaced evenly. Its position depends on the length of the wall. Thus the spacing between it and the second-to-last stud can be anything from a couple of inches to the standard 14-1/2 inches. Whatever you do, don’t adjust the spacing of all the studs to avoid having a single odd space. If you do, the edges of your drywall sheets won’t line up with the studs.

Position Studs

Place the studs on edge in between the plates. If any studs are not perfectly flat, turn them so that any slight gap is at the bottom. Hold them in position one by one and nail them in place through the plates. Make sure the edges of the studs are flush with the edges of the plates.

Add Blocking

Blocking may be added to the wall to provide a solid nailing surface for moldings or cabinets. If needed, nail blocking between the studs. Position the blocking with the wide face out. Toenail one side of each block. Here the pieces are positioned to support a chair-rail molding. Then, tilt the wall frame up and into place.

How to Frame in a Small Space

If you are working in tight quarters, you’ll have to build the wall in place. Start by laying out the plates as described above. Attach the wall top plate to the plate already attached to the ceiling. Use a plumb bob to locate the bottom plate. Anchor it to the floor. Cut the studs to fit between the plates. Toenail them in place top and bottom. Predrilling makes nailing easier.

Drive toenails into the face of a stud at an angle so that they come out the end of the stud and enter an adjoining piece of lumber. Usually three nails are adequate, one driven from one side and two from the other.

Making an addition? Finishing a basement? Building a shed? If so, you’ll probably need to build a wall with at least one door. From lumber and hardware to power tools and cordless tools, here’s what you need to know to make this as simple as 1, 2, 3!

1.) Measure And Plan

First, check your local building codes to make sure you are compliant.

Measure the length for the new wall. Also measure the height of the ceiling (if a ceiling is already in place) in several places along the length of the wall. Often, the ceiling height will vary slightly along the length of a room. Find the shortest measurement from floor to ceiling and build your new frame to this height.

Determine the number of studs required to build the wall by dividing the length measurement by 16 inches. Add two additional studs for “end studs”. If your ceiling measurement is 8 feet or less, you can use 8 foot lumber for the studs. If the height is over 8 feet, use 10 foot lumber for the studs. Take the wall length measurement to choose boards for the top and bottom plate. Two-by-fours are available from 8 feet, to over 20 feet long so choose boards that are a bit longer than the length so you can cut them down to size.

Because you’re adding a door, you’ll also need to account for the door frame. The door frame will consist of two king studs, which run the entire height of the wall frame; two trimmer studs (or jack studs), which fit inside the king studs and are the same height as the door casing; and a horizontal header across the top of the door that preserves the structural integrity.

2.) Build The Frame

Cut the top and bottom plates to the measured length of the new wall. Take the shortest ceiling measurement, subtract the thickness of the two plates, and cut all the studs to this length. Calculate the placement for any door opening and cut the jack and cripple studs to length. Cut the header and have it ready when you layout the rest of the wall framing.

It is much easier to build the wall frame on the floor, then pivot it up into position. This is called tilt-up construction.

Build the frame with the lumber laying on edge, on the floor next to where it will be erected. Start by laying the top and bottom plates side by side and measure starting from one end. Mark both plates simultaneously, every 16 inches along their length for the studs. Then, mark the location for the door opening. (Note: A frame should be built to accommodate a door with the bottom plate in place for stability. The plate can then be cut out after construction is complete.)

Separate the plates and lay the pre-cut studs between them so the centers align with each mark. Use a framing nailer to attach the framing members to create the wall. Nail through the sill and header into the studs for stronger joints. Cut and dry-fit the other components of the wall, making sure the distance between the trimmer studs is correct for the door casing. Nail the king studs in position, then nail the trimmer studs i the king studs and attach the header.

If building the wall on a concrete floor, e.g. in a basement, use pressure-treated lumber for any part of the frame that will come in contact with concrete. The sill plate should be pre-drilled for anchor bolts that attach the wall to the concrete.

3.) Position And Attach The Wall

Tilt the completed frame upright and shift it out of the way. Snap a straight chalk line on the floor to show the wall’s desired position. Use a long level and a pencil to extend the line up the wall. If the new wall will attach to a framed wall, make sure it will be positioned at a stud. If it’s attaching to a concrete block wall, position the wall so it lines up with the middle of the blocks.

Move the wall into place. Set the new frame plumb and square using a level held against the edge of the studs. Tap the plates one way or the other until they align with the marks and all your studs are plumb. If any point along the new wall frame is not snug because of variances in the ceiling height, use wood shims driven under the bottom plate to tighten the fit.

Use a framing nailer to attach the wall to the floor before attaching to the other walls. To secure the wall to the concrete floor, use a drill with a masonry bit to drill a pilot hole through the pressure-treated sill and into the floor. Use a hammer to pound 2-1/2″ hard-cut masonry nails through the pilot holes and into the floor.

Nail the wall frame to the walls on either side. If attaching to a concrete block wall, drill pilot holes and nail into the center of the concrete blocks, where the blocks are the strongest. Don’t nail into the joints between the blocks; it’s not secure. When attaching to a wood-frame wall, make sure to nail into a stud.

After the framing has been installed, cut the bottom plate to accept the new door. Use a handsaw to cut through the 2×4 plate right next to the trimmer studs. Protect floors from the saw blade with a scrap piece of plywood or a similar, thin material. Cut the plate, stopping about 1/8 inch from the floor, and use a chisel and hammer to finish the job.

How to frame a wall

Framing a wall sounds like a big construction job, but it’s lighter work than it sounds. It’s really nothing more than cutting pieces of two-by-four lumber and joining them, and if you use screws, the impact on the rest of the room should be minimal. If you’re framing the wall to separate a space, you may need a door, and that complicates the framing somewhat, but not enough to call in a contractor. Before you start, it’s a good idea to set up a cutting station outside so you don’t fill the room you’re working in with sawdust.

Measure the distance between the two parallel walls that your new one will span with a tape measure if you are creating a new room within the space, or determine how far you want a partition wall to extend into the room. Cut two pieces of two-by-four lumber to that length with a circular saw. They are the top and bottom plates of the wall.

Locate the ceiling joists with a stud finder. If the wall is parallel to the joists, choose one of them and screw the top plate to that joist.

Hold the top plate in position against the ceiling and screw it to the ceiling joists with 3-inch screws.

Drop a plumb bob down to the floor from each end of the top plate and mark the position of the floor. Use the marks to position the bottom plate, and screw it to the floor with 3-inch screws. If the floor is concrete or tile, spread construction adhesive on the bottom of the board, set it in position and nail it to the floor with a power nailer. If there is carpet on the floor, cut out a strip wide enough for the plate.

Measure the distance between the plates and cut two studs for the ends of the wall. Tap them into position and drive 3-inch screws into the edges of each one. Drive the screws an angle near the top and bottom of each stud so that they go through the top and bottom plates.

Check the level of the wall again by putting a level on the end studs. If either of the plates aren’t positioned correctly, and the wall is out of plumb, you can fix it unscrew either of the plates, tapping it until the studs are level, then driving new screws.

Frame the doorway, if you want one. Measure the door, add 5 inches to that measurement and install two king studs that distance apart. The extra distance is for the jack studs, the door jamb and 1/2 inch wiggle room. Make sure the king studs are level, then screw them to the plates.

Measure the height of the door and cut two jack studs that are 1/4 inch longer. The difference accounts for the jamb and 1 inch of wiggle room as well as for the fact that the studs sit on the bottom plate of the wall, and not the floor. Screw the jack studs to the king studs, then cut out the section of the bottom plate between them with a reciprocating saw.

Cut a piece of four-by-four lumber to fit between the king studs. Mount it on the tops of the jack studs and screw it to the king studs to finish framing the doorway.

Fill in the rest of the wall with studs, placing them 16 inches apart as measured from their centers. Don’t forget to install short studs, or cripples, above the doorway with the same spacing.

How to frame a wall

Two-by-six lumber offers important advantages in construction. Its added strength compared to two-by-four lumber makes it essential for two- and three-story residences and highly appropriate for homes in seismic areas. You can install thicker insulation and run water supply, vent, HVAC and 4-inch drain pipes much more easily, leading to convenience and savings that partly offset its higher price, notes Brett Bernard, project manager of the Union Box Co. in Maryland.

Measure, mark and cut on a chop saw: headers, jack studs, trimmers, top and bottom plates, and any other pieces of lumber other than full studs. Work from a cutting list derived from the engineer’s blueprints of framing elements for the wall, especially the dimensions needed for framing rough openings for windows and doors.

Assemble a kit of all the cut two-by-sixes needed for the wall on the subfloor near where you plan to lift the finished wall into place. Temporarily stack similar-sized cripple studs and headers neatly.

Clamp the plates together and mark their edges with an “X” between two marks 1 ½ inches apart to designate stud locations. Typical stud spacing is 24 inches on center for two-by-sixes, unlike two-by-fours, which are 16 inches apart. Consult your blueprints to confirm this specification for your project. When your stud layout is complete, separate the plates and set them on-edge on your work surface about 8 feet apart (or the height of your wall), making sure the layout marks on both plates are oriented in the same way.

Hold a stud tight to the bottom plate at each “X.” Sight along each board to find where it crowns (bows along the narrow sides of the lumber) up or down and lay it on-edge with the crown facing upward and its ends neatly touching the plates. Hammer two 16d nails through the bottom plate into the butt end of the stud. Follow by hammering the top plate similarly to the top of the studs.

Modify standard framing procedures for headers above framed openings for doors and windows. Your header must be 5 ½ inches thick (from front to back on the finished wall), rather than 3 ½ inches as in a two-by-four wall. You can create this thick header by sandwiching two two-by-sixes around 2 ½ inches of insulation foam board, or by using three two-by-six boards layered around two 3/8-inch or ½-inch panels of OSB or plywood. However, large framed openings in load-bearing walls may require larger lumber and different construction. Headers in partition walls can be single two-by-six boards installed with the face perpendicular to the subfloor if your engineer approves.

Follow standard framing procedures also used for two-by-four lumber to complete your rough openings for windows and doors. Clear the area of hazards like electrical cords and scrap lumber.

Lift the completed wall into place with the help of several assistants or lifting jacks. Plan the lift carefully to avoid the risk of injury, as two-by-six lumber makes much heavier walls. Hoist the top of the wall onto sawhorses and reposition the work crew for the final lift. Set up lifting jacks as an alternative, especially for long, heavy walls, making sure the bases rest on floor joists rather than subfloor alone to avoid tearing a hole in the surface.

Nail 10-foot braces to the wall and subfloor at a 45-degree angle to hold the wall upright. Fine-tune the position of the wall’s bottom plate, and nail it to the subfloor and floor joists below with 16d nails, as specified in your building plans.

Framing walls is a fundamental skill that you need to master if you plan to build your own shed, home addition, or house. Framing walls is rough carpentry and typically involves assembling 2x4s or 2x6s in a specific manner to create a rough wall that drywall and exterior sheathing can be hung on.

There are two ways to frame walls. The most common way to construct framed walls is down on a level surface. Once a framed wall is constructed it is lifted and secured into place.

The other method of framing walls is known as stick framing. With this method the wall is framed vertically in place.

When laying out and framing walls it is important to understand both the desired finished dimensions of a room and the thicknesses of the wall studs and drywall. For example 2x4s have a width dimension of around 3-1/2 inches. Drywall has a thickness dimension of either 1/2 or 5/8 inches. So when building and positioning walls it is important to account for these structural dimensions when designing your home, shed, or home addition.

This allows common 4’x8′ dimensional sheathing to easily break on the center of the wall studs and attach to them.

The easiest way to frame a wall is on the deck of the new home or home addition, near the location where it is to be positioned.

To layout and frame a wall cut two straight 2x4s (or 2x6s depending on how thick you want the wall) to the desired length of the wall. If the wall is very long you’ll need a second top plate to sister to the first top plate.

Place the two cut 2x4s parallel to one another and separated approximately the desired height of the wall. Now use your square to layout and mark where you’ll attach your vertical wall studs. Start on one side of the top plate and place the narrower width of the carpenter square 15-1/4 inches from the end of the top plate. You’ll need a tape measure for this. The square’s edge that is the closet to the end of the top plate is the leading edge of the first wall stud. Use a pencil and mark a line on the top plate on both sides of the square. Then remove your square and place an X in the area between the pencil marks. This is where you’ll place your wall stud and it will put the center of the wall stud at 16 inches from the end of the top plate.

The 16 inch on center wall studs that make up the remaining portion of the wall, and any cripple wall studs, can then be marked afterwards.

After marking up your top and bottom plates you can then cut to length your vertical stud members and then fasten them to the top and bottom plates using 16d common nails. Use two nails per wall stud to plate connection. Once the wall is framed you can then lift it into place. You’ll need at least another pair of hands to do this. Make sure the wall is level and square and then nail it to the deck. Also use a few spring boards to hold it in place while you build the other connecting walls. The spring boards should be nailed at about halfway up the framed wall and then positioned outwards at a diagonal and nailed to the deck.

For more help on building a home addition , see’s Home Addition Bid Sheets . Our Home Addition Bid Sheets provide you with the knowledge and information on how to plan a home building project, and what to look for when hiring contractors. They also include detailed cost breakdown tables and spreadsheets for estimating your own new home construction building costs.

Related Information

    • How to Sister Floor Joists
    • How to use a Level Correctly
    • Stiffen up your Floor by Cross Bracing the Floor Joists
    • Framing a Window

    Additional Framing Resources from

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    The first step in a superinsulated house with double stud walls is framing a simple 2×4 exterior wall. So we shot footage.

    One of the advantages of double stud walls is that you can frame with 2x4s.

    This makes the walls easier to lift, but these jokers are still using a big ol’ forklift to do the heavy work.

    Most studs come precut, but the third floor of this house is a little shorter than eight feet, so Ben gang-cuts a handful of studs.

    He lines up the ends with a framing square, clamps the bundle together, and marks a line.

    While he is doing that, he explains the order of walls he’ll frame in the house. Usually, eaves and then gables, because the shorter gable walls can be built and stood between the longer eaves walls.

    As for the eave walls,

    Ben: “We pick which walls we want to frame here based off of where we can reach (the forklift) from.

    So, we have a low side to the building, and I had some concern about whether we’d be able to lift that wall with the other wall that we had, so I did this wall forst (with lower grade) in case we’d have to come from the higher grade side of the building.

    And still have a way to be able to reach up, grab the wall and lift it.”

    After he cuts the studs, he stacks them next to the plates and then explains his layout process, designed to save steps and reduce dependency on memory. First, he marks rough openings for windows and doors, and then he marks the studs.

    Ben: As far as layout goes, in pre-construction, I go through the prints and make syself a cheat sheet, so to speak, with the locations of all the window R.O.s and sizes.

    So that when I get here, we can just pull on our plates and lay out our R.O.s accurately.

    And I always set it up, pulling from the right towards the left of the building. Because that way, I can mark out my R.O.s and by the time I get to the end of the wall plate, I can unhook from my R.O.s and start my layout, because I usually run sheathing starting left to right.

    So I just tru to think of ways to cut movement on the jobsite. One trip down, marking my R.O.s, and then I can just pick right up there and work my way back doing all of my layout for sheathing.”

    The third trip down the line is marking the hieroglyphics. In this case, Hawk uses a framing square to mark both sides of the studs, but sometimes he gets risky and uses a speed square, marking only one side.

    Plate stock comes longer than the nominal length they are sold at, so they need to be cut to the correct length to split a stud on the layout.

    As long as we are talking about plates, it is good practice to break the top plates over studs because if you’ve ever run an expensive new hole saw into a mass of nails—well, we’ll just leave it there.

    So, with the plates laid out, and studs roughly stacked, they can begin framing. They prebuilt the rough openings earlier, while Ben was talking to the camera, so now they can just plop them in place and roll.

    Let’s take a closer look at the window framing.

    Ben pulls his tape from left to right marking centers of window openings.

    To lay out the window opening, use the center line to mark the width of the RO. This is the inner face of the two jack studs or trimmer studs.

    The inner edges are the rough opening, and the outer edges are the header width. The jack studs suit under the header, holding it up at each end.

    Beginning with the header, let’s look at the assembly sequence.

    The header usually has a plate above and below to give a full bearing on the jack studs.

    The height of the jack studs depends on multiple things. It could be aligned with tops of the interior doors, or it may be specified on the plans.

    Either way, flush the bottoms of a couple of jack studs with the bottom of a couple of king studs and nail them together.

    Now you can nail the header into the studs.

    You can also piece in the cripple studs and sill plate, but Ben holds off on cripples that are within the opening just yet. Those are added along with cripple studs above the header as the wall is framed.

    Back on the actual job, Brian checks the crown on each stud and places them all in the same direction, to avoid a humpy wall.

    Meanwhile, Liz fills in the cripple studs below the sill.

    These follow the typical layout so wall sheathing will break right.

    When the bottom plate is nailed, the top plate is slid into place and nailed as well.

    Now Liz fills in above the header. While Brian nails it off, hawk lays out the next wall.

    When the wall is framed, they square it up. The bottom plate is tacked to the line on the floor deck, and they measure diagonals to see which way to whack it.

    They recheck it, and when it is perfect, they snap a line for the first course of sheathing.

    Which takes us to the end of the framing. Next time we’ll put the sheathing on the line—

    —This is the first part of a seven or eight-part series on framing, flashing, and sealing a double-wall house.

    How would you put up/frame a wall where the 2×4 studs are turned flat to make the wall 2″ thick? One especially tricky thing is that (it seems that) all nails must be toenailed since a 3.5″ long 16d nail isn’t long enough to attach the 3.5″ tall plates to the studs. Are there any suggestions on how to avoid toenailing or how to toenail effectively with a nail gun so that they go in at the right angle to grip well, not split the 1.5″ thick wood and not stick out the other side?

    6 Answers 6

    If you’re willing to put a little extra work into it, using screws instead of nails can really help make this kind of “light” framing much more durable. It’s a little/lot more time consuming, depending on how much you love your power drill, but well worth the extra time, in my opinion.

    Are the top and bottom plates already installed? Could you use a 2x2s for the top and bottom plates? Then you could nail (or screw) through from the outside of the plate into the stud.

    An easy way to complete a wall like you describe is to build it flat on the floor. That way you can screw or nail the studs to the plates through the plates. I recommend installing a separate plate on the floor or across the upper joists first. Floor usually works best. Then simply measure the shortest dimension from the floor plate you just installed to the joists and build your wall to that measurement less 1/4 inch. Now you can stand it up usually without the angle getting hung up on existing ceiling and walk it into place. If you don’t use the extra separate plate, it is almost impossible to stand it up into place. Attach it to which ever plate (top or bottom) you installed first, then shim it to keep it stable and plumb it as you nail it to the bottom plate or the joists. When you build the wall on the ground, lay out your 16 inch centers etc. Flush up the second plate to the one you just marked and transfer the marks to other plate with a square. Now you know where to place the studs between the plates. This method is the most common practice for building non-load bearing walls in an existing structure and works with any size lumber you want to use.

    I’ve done this before and typically I’ll frame the whole thing with 2×2’s (top & bottom plates + 2×2 “studs”).

    It can be tricky finding straight 2×2’s though, so often I’ll just buy 2x4s and rip them in half on a table saw.

    Creating rooms starts with building walls the right way.

    How to frame a wall

    How to frame a wall

    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.

    How to frame a wall

    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.

    Rough-In Wiring

    Once your wall is built and attached, you can rough-in the wiring, which prepares your wall for outlets once the drywall is up.


    Insulating your wall is the final step before enclosing the wall with drywall. Fiberglass batting is easy to install, but there are other more eco-friendly insulation options that are more efficient.

    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.