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Build a Stud Wall and Fasten Drywall

Basement Posts

Posts, and the beams they support, offer a great location for a wall. If the posts are wood, use them as studs. If the posts are metal, attach a stud to one or both sides with 3/8" carriage bolts spaced 2' apart. If the post (either metal or wood) is more than 3-1/2" across and you plan to drywall both sides, shim one side of the studs. Use 3/4" × 1-1/2" furring strips or scraps of wood or plywood.

The beam above a post makes a perfect support for the top plate. You may even be able to skip the top plate and toe screw the studs to the beam. Place the face of the studs flush to the beam, then run the drywall up the side of the beam.

In the Rest of the House

Building Smarts

To build a wall, you need to know where the joists are, and which direction they run. Normally, joists run in the same direction on every floor of the house, so look first in the basement. Joists usually run across the shorter dimension of a room. If there's a center beam in the basement, the joists run perpendicular to it.

The picture changes considerably when you're building on a wood floor. If the walls run perpendicular to the joists, screw the sole plate to the floor joists, and the top plate to the ceiling joists. (Don't know where the joists are? See the sidebar.)

To secure the plates on walls that parallel the joists, follow these suggestions:

  • Sole plate: Lag bolt the sole plate to a joist directly below. If you are not over a joist, screw the sole plate to the subflooring, as described later in this chapter.

  • Top plate: Lag bolt the top plate to a joist directly above it. If you are not under a joist, use the blocking technique described later in this chapter. Place one blocking 6" in from the corners and then every 4' along the top plate.

Attach the new wall to studs in the existing walls if possible. Otherwise, add a blocking at the center of the stud. Remove the drywall between the studs adjacent to the new wall location, screw a block of 2 × 4 between the studs (keep the face flush to the studs), and replace the drywall.

Starting the Layout

Start the wall layout from a reference wall, such as an exterior wall, which was used to lay out the house. Measure at two places to locate a line parallel to the reference wall. Use a 3-4-5 (or 6-8-10) triangle to place a wall square to the reference wall (3' on one side, 4' on the second, and 5' at the hypotenuse). Don't be shy about checking your layout—pencil marks are easier to move than anchor bolts!

Locate corners and doorways (see the diagram given later to see how to arrange studs at corners). Corner construction varies depending on whether the walls will get drywall on one or two faces. Wherever you want drywall, give it something to nail to—drywall can't just hang in the breeze!

Use a chalk line, a long board, or a string to mark the walls on the floor. Remove any baseboard or other molding that will interfere with the wall.


Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Simple Home Improvements © 2004 by David J. Tenenbaum. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

To order this book visit Amazon's web site or call 1-800-253-6476.

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