How to Frame a Wall
Time Required: Over 1 day
Adding an interior wall can make a large, unusable space more functional. To frame a wall, you must choose the wall's location, build the wall flat on the floor and then tilt it into place. Learning how to frame a wall requires accuracy and attention to detail, but the results are well worth the challenge. Use this guide to learn how to frame a wall, step-by-step.
These are the steps for framing an 8-foot by 10-foot wall. Begin wall assembly by planning the layout of the new wall.
- Use a chalk line to mark where you want to place the new wall along the floor.
- Run a stud finder along the ceiling to locate the joists.
- If the joists are parallel to the new wall, adjust the layout so that the wall is directly under a joist. If the joists run perpendicular to the wall, an adjustment should not be necessary.
Tip: If you have 3 or 4-inch diameter pipes running through the wall, make the wall from 2-inch x 6-inch dimensional lumber boards. If not, make it from 2-inch x 4-inch boards.
Knowing how to frame a wall starts with measuring where the plates will go. The plates are the base pieces of wood that serve as anchors for the rest of the wall frame. The top plates are at the ceiling and the sole plates, also called sill plates, are on the floor. Use a tape measure to mark the locations of the plates.
- Measure from a corner of the room and mark where the new wall will meet the existing wall.
- Measure from the opposite corner and lay out the other end of the new wall.
- Snap a chalk line between the marks. This indicates one edge of the top plate.
- Measure diagonally between the opposite corners. If the measurements are the same, the new wall is square. If they are not, adjust the layout so they are equal.
To lay out the sole or floor plates of the new wall, drive a nail into the ceiling close to one end of the chalk line.
- Hang a plumb bob from the nail and mark the floor where it points.
- Repeat at the other end of the ceiling chalk line. Snap a chalk line between the marks to lay out one edge of the sole plate.
- Mark an "X" to the side of the line where the plate will be positioned.
Tip: If you're nailing into concrete, fasten the wall with construction adhesive and concrete nails.
Determine the placement of the wall studs. The wall studs will support the frame of the new wall.
- Set the top and sole plates side by side on the floor.
- Starting at one end, measure and mark the plates every 16 inches.
- Then, with a combination square and a pencil, extend the lines across the plates.
- Draw an "X" at the end of each plate and to the right side of the line on each plate to mark the stud locations.
Calculate the length of the wall studs.
- Determine the stud length by measuring the distance between the ceiling and the floor at several places.
- Take the shortest distance and subtract 3 3/4 inches to allow for the combined thicknesses of the top and sole plates. This also allows for the clearance you'll need to tilt the wall into place.
Once you have all your measurements, it's time to cut the wood stud pieces to create the wall frame.
- Wear safety goggles whenever using a circular saw or other power tools.
- Cut the studs to length with a circular saw or hand saw.
- Lay the bottom plate and the first stud on edge and nail them together with 16d nails.
- If the first stud (or any other stud) is warped, make sure the crown faces up. This will allow you to nail the ends without the stud rocking.
Complete the frame by nailing the wood studs to the sole plate.
- Nail the studs to the sole plate one at a time. Once all the studs are attached to the bottom plate, set the top plate on edge and nail it to the studs at the marks.
- 2 x 4’s placed between the studs act as firestops in case of a fire inside the wall. Cut them to fit, position them to make nailing easy, then nail them in place.
Tilt the newly assembled wall frame into place. For a large wall, get someone to help you lift it into position.
- With the studs nailed in place, align the bottom plate with the floor chalk line.
- Carefully tilt the wall into place and align the top plate with the ceiling chalk line.
- Fasten the wall into place. Starting at one end of the new wall, shim between the top plate and ceiling, and check the wall for plumb with a level.
- As you shim and plumb each section of wall, drive 16d nails through the top plate into the framing with a hammer or nail gun.
- Fasten the bottom plate by driving 16d nails through it into the floor.
- Nail the end studs to framing in the existing wall.
- Score the shims with a utility knife and snap them off flush with the plate.
- Once you have finished wall framing, you can move onto installing insulation and drywall.
Tip: Wing walls that are only a few feet high and a few feet long can present challenges. You can strengthen one by running the end stud through the floor and bolting it to a joist.
Learning how to frame a wall can be one of the biggest steps in renovating or remodeling your home. A new wall can make better use of your space or give you an entirely new room. Don't worry if you don't own all of the tools needed to complete this DIY project. Rent what you need from The Home Depot tool rental center. Plus, we deliver online orders when and where you need them.