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Framing an Interior Wall: A Step-by-step Guide

If you are finishing an attic or a basement, adding a closet, or any number of other home improvement projects, you will probably need to frame an interior wall. The good news is that framing partition walls that are not load-bearing is fairly simple and straightforward, although you need to pay attention to detail to get it right. You can do the framing on the floor and then tilt the wall into place, or you can assemble the wall in place. For our purposes here we will assume it's a simple partition wall without openings, assembled horizontally and then tilted vertical and nailed in.

1. Select the materials needed: 2-by-4 studs, 2-by-4 top and bottom plates, and 16d common nails. Make sure you have enough studs for the length of the wall.

2. Cut the top and bottom 2-by-4 plates to the proper length for the wall.

3. Lay the plates next to each other with their ends aligned and mark them every 16 inches. These marks are where the studs will nail to the plates.

4. Nail the studs to the bottom plate, and then to the top plate. Use common 16d nails and drive them through the plate into the end of the stud. Use a carpenter's square to make sure the studs are nailed in squarely.

5. Once the framed wall is complete, mark the ceiling where either end of the wall will be. Drop a plumb bob from these marks and mark the floor where the plumb bob touches.

6. Snap a chalk line on the floor and the ceiling between the two marks.

7. Tilt the wall up and move it into place on the chalk lines. You may have to remove flooring material and/or wallboard from the ceiling to fit the wall in.

8. Nail the bottom plate through the sub-floor to the floor joists.

9. Nail the top plate to the ceiling joists after making sure the wall is still square and plumb. If the wall runs parallel to the joists, you will have to put nailing blocks between the joists.

Once the framed wall is in place, it is ready for wallboard and painting. The entire job will take about four hours, exclusive of shopping for the materials. Figure $3 to $4 per stud for spruce or fir, 50 cents per foot for the top and bottom plates, and $5 to $10 dollars for the nails, depending on the length of the wall.