Project Guide

How to Frame a Wall

1
TEMPORARILY LAYOUT THE NEW WALL
Hand placing stud finder along a ceiling to prepare to frame a new wall

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 they run perpendicular to the wall, put the wall where you want.

2
MEASURE FROM A CORNER AND MARK WHERE THE NEW WALL MEETS THE EXISTING WALL
Person measuring corner wall mark

Measure from the opposite corner and lay out the other end of the new wall. Snap a chalk line between the marks. This marks one edge of the top plate. Measure diagonally between opposite corners. If the measurements are the same, the new wall is square. If they are not, adjust the layout so they are equal.

3
LAY OUT THE SOLE PLATE, DRIVE A NAIL INTO THE CEILING CLOSE TO ONE END OF THE CHALK LINE
A person using a pencil to mark a spot on the floor underneath a plumb bob

Hang a plumb bob from the nail and mark the floor at the point. 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.

4
SET THE TOP AND SOLE PLATES SIDE BY SIDE ON THE FLOOR
Person using a pencil and a ruler to mark top and sole plates

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 location of studs.

5
DETERMINE THE STUD LENGTH BY MEASURING THE DISTANCE BETWEEN THE CEILING AND THE FLOOR AT SEVERAL PLACES
Person measuring stud length between ceiling and floor with tape measure

Take the shortest distance and subtract 3 3/4 inches to allow for the combined thicknesses of the top and bottom sole plates. This also allows for the clearance you will need to tilt the wall into place.

6
CUT THE STUDS TO LENGTH
Person using a hammer to nail top and bottom sole plates together

Take the shortest distance and subtract 3 3/4 inches to allow for the combined thicknesses of the top and bottom sole plates. This also allows for the clearance you will need to tilt the wall into place.

7
NAIL THE STUDS IN PLACE ONE AT A TIME
Person using a hammer to nail studs in place

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. Two-by-fours 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 and nail them in place.

8
WITH THE STUDS NAILED IN PLACE, ALIGN THE BOTTOM PLATE WITH THE FLOOR CHALK LINE
Person tilting a new wall frame in place

Carefully tilt the wall into place and align the top plate with the ceiling chalk line. For a large wall, get someone to help you lift it into position.

9
STARTING AT ONE END OF THE NEW WALL, SHIM BETWEEN THE TOP PLATE AND CEILING AND CHECK THE WALL FOR PLUMB WITH A LEVEL
Two people shimming and plumbing a wall frame in place

As you shim and plumb each section of wall, drive 16d nails through the top plate into the framing. 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.