How To Frame a New Wall

Learn how to frame a wall, including techniques for measuring, layout and nailing

Day
framing a new wall

The most important step in wall framing is knowing where to place the wall so it will stay upright and safe. If a wall runs perpendicular to joists, nail it into the joists. But if a wall runs parallel to joists, it can cross an entire room without crossing any framing. Nothing guarantees the end of a wall will run into framing in the existing wall, so if you need joists or studs that aren't there, it's time to learn how to frame a wall.

This guide will teach you how to frame a wall. Remember the motto of "measure twice, cut once," as precision is crucial for wall framing.

Safety: When framing walls, wear proper eye, head and hand protection at all times.

What You Need

1
Temporarily layout the new wall
Temporarily layout the new wall - Framing a New Wall

When framing a wall, the first step is to 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 MEETSTHE EXISTING WALL
Measure corner mark wall - Framing a New Wall

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 oneend of the chalk line
Lay out sole plate - Framing a New Wall

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
Set the top and sole plates - Framing a New Wall

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 betweenthe ceiling and the floor at several places
Determine the stud length by measuring - Framing a New Wall

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
Cut studs to length - Framing a New Wall

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
Nail studs place one time - Framing a New Wall

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 thefloor chalk line
With the studs nailed in place - Framing a New Wall

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 topplate and ceiling and check the wall for plumb with a level
Starting at one end new wall - Framing a New Wall

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.

Tip: Wing walls that are only a few feet high and a few feet long present their own problems. You can't nail them to the joists above, and one end of the wall will stop before it meets another wall. Give a wing wall strength by running the end stud through the floor and bolting it to a joist.