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How to Frame a Wall

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How to Frame a Wall

A quick and basic introduction to framing walls "in place". This technique is especially helpful if you are working in a basement and find that you cannot raise the walls into place. Be sure to check local building codes for restrictions and guidelines for your area.


Assess whether you need this method. If building a wall on the floor and raising it into position is not practical in your situation, begin by cutting the top and bottom plates, and marking them for studs.
Transfer the marks to the faces of the plates, making sure the marks are clear so you can see them easily to align the studs while toe nailing.
Install top and bottom plates. Nail the top plate to the joists. Use a level and a straight board to mark the location of the bottom plate, or use a chalk line case as a plumb bob. Mark the floor in two places and mark an "X" to indicate on which side of the mark the plate should be positioned. Use masonry nails or a power hammer to fasten the bottom plate to the floor. When placing bottom plates on concrete basement floors you'll need to use pressure treated lumber to protect from moisture.
Cut and install the studs. With top and bottom plates installed, measure the required length of each stud individually. Add 1/16 inch (1.5 mm) for a snug fit and cut. Tap each stud into place. If you really have to whack it to get it into place, or it looks bowed, it is too long. Don't risk splitting the stud; take it down and trim it a little.
Toenail the studs. To secure the studs, drive 8-penny nails at an angle through the side of studs and into the plate; this is called toe nailing. Tap the nail once or twice while holding it parallel to the floor or ceiling. When the nail tip bites into the wood, change the angle to 45ยบ. Drive four to six nails into each joint, two on each side, with an optional one at the front and back. The first nail may move the stud, but the second nail, driven from the other side, will move it back.


If you have difficulty toe nailing, drill pilot holes for the nails, using a 3/32-inch (2.4 mm) bit. Or, place a 14-1/2-inch (37 cm) board between studs to serve as a temporary nailing brace.
Framing at corners. When framing corners, make sure there is a nailing surface for every piece of drywall or paneling that will be installed. This means adding nonstructural "nailers".
Another efficient option, when building a wall by yourself, is to rent a framing nail gun from your local hardware store or tool rental shop.

Always wear eye protection and hearing protection when working with power hammers.
Watch for cables running through the floor joists. Do not pinch them under plates.

Things You'll Need
Chalk Line
Power Hammer
Power Mitre Box Saw