walls can be challenging. A basement’s concrete slab floor is often not
completely level. Likewise, the first floor floor-joists are also not always
perfectly level. Then there are all the plumbing pipes and electrical wires that
run below and between the first floor floor-joists to contend with. All of these
issues create real challenges when framing basement walls. Consequently stick
building basement walls, rather than framing wall sections on the floor and then
raising them up and into place, is often done when framing basement walls.
Framing Basement Walls along
Concrete Foundation Walls
If you want to ensure a warmer and more comfortable temperature finished
basement, then perimeter framed basement walls should be installed along the
interior of the basement’s concrete foundation walls. Insulation can then be
installed in between the wall stud bays to ensure a warmer finished basement.
Perimeter framed basement walls should be constructed using 2”x4”s, as is
normally done with interior framed walls.
Stick Building Basement Walls
To stick build basement walls fasten a pressured treated 2”x4” sole plate to the
floor of the basement using an adhesive and concrete penetrating nails. A powder
actuated nail gun helps immensely with speeding up the process of nailing sole
plates to the concrete slab. Similarly nail a top plate to the floor joists
above and perfectly aligned with the sole plate. A plumb bob can help to ensure
the alignment of the sole plate and top plate. If you are not framing a basement
wall that runs perpendicular to the floor joists you will first need to nail a
few blocks of 2”x4”s in between the floor joist bays to create a nailing surface
for the top plate.
|After the sole and
top plates are nailed into place you can then install vertical 2”x4” wall
studs in between them. They should be placed on 16 inch centers from one
another, starting from the end of one wall and working your way to the
other. Both ends of the framed wall should have 2”x4” vertical studs. Also
make sure to measure before cutting each vertical stud member, as the floor
to ceiling height will likely vary as you traverse the length of the sole
and top plates.
If you don’t plan to insulate the exterior foundation walls but still plan
on drywalling them, then at a minimum you will need to install vertical
furring strips to the perimeter concrete foundation walls. I highly
recommend using 2”x4”s, but placed on their flat sides against the concrete
foundation walls. Again, they should be fastened to the concrete foundation
walls with an adhesive (e.g. Liquid Nails) and concrete nails or Tapcon
Interior Basement Wall Framing
Interior basement walls can be stick built just as the perimeter basement
walls. However, you may be able to get away with framing some of the
interior wall sections on the concrete floor and then standing them up into
place if there are no plumbing pipes or other objects that will need to be
When framing wall sections on the floor build them about a ¼ inch shorter
than the height of the first floor floor-joists so that you can more easily
stand them up. If you don’t, you may find yourself having difficulty standing
them up in place as they may get wedged between the first floor floor-joists and
the basement floor.
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Also, another reason for framing the
basement walls slightly shorter, is if the soil underneath the home has high
clay content. If it does the concrete slab can literally move up and down with
the amount of rain water absorbed by the clay. If you have clay soil in your
region use L-Shaped steel framing clips to fasten to the framed basement walls
and the first-floor floor joists. The L-shaped steel framing clips will allow
the framed basement walls to literally move up and down with the concrete slab
as the clay soil’s moisture content changes.
Once positioned in place you can then shim the framed basement walls to
ensure a tight fit before nailing them. However, make sure the walls are
level and square before nailing them in place. Again, you’ll want to use an
adhesive underneath the sole plates for the interior basement walls, and you
will need to fasten them in place with concrete nails or Tapcon screws.
Again, if an interior wall has plumbing pipes, electrical wires or other
objects to have contend with then stick building is the better approach for
framing the basement wall.
To speed up the process of stick building basement walls I highly suggest
using a pneumatic nail gun, such as a the
Bostitch F21PL Round Head 1-1/2-Inch to 3-1/2-Inch Framing Nailer with Positive Placement Tip and Magnesium Housing.
If you don’t feel like spending the money on buying a pneumatic nail gun and
compressor look into renting one. Besides speeding up the framing process,
it will also help with nailing into tight places that you can’t always do
well with a hammer, a common issue when framing basement walls,
Boxing in Ductwork
If you have HVAC ductwork in your basement you will need to build soffits
around them to create nailing surfaces for hanging the drywall. Similarly,
if you want to include recessed lighting you may also want to frame in
soffits. Since soffits are not structural you can build them with 2”x3”s or
even 2”x2”s. Soffits are built similarly to a standard wall. Run parallel
top plates along the length of the ductwork, on each side of it, and then
attach two end vertical stud members to them. To ensure the soffits are
built straight, use a chalk like to help with the placement of the top
plates. The top plates of the soffit attach to the first floor floor-joists
and then the vertical members hold up the bottom plate(s). Then fill in the
soffit areas with additional vertical stud members located on 16 inch
centers. Likewise, attach horizontal stud members between the two soffit
walls to complete the boxing in of the ductwork.
Also make sure to use a carpenter’s square and level when building the
soffits to ensure their sides are perfectly square and level. In addition, make
sure to measure each location for the various vertical and horizontal stud
members, as they may vary a bit along the entire length of the soffit.
Framing Basement Ceiling
If you plan to drywall the basement ceiling you’ll need to fasten
perpendicular to the floor joists either 2”x4”s laid on their flat side or
1”x3” furring strips. The use of 2”x4”s provides a little extra clearance
for any plumbing supply pipes or electrical wires that could be running up
against the bottom edges of the floor joists. The 2”x4”s, or 1”x3” furring
strips, should be nailed into place on 16 inch centers, starting from one
side of the basement and working your way across to the other.
For more help on Finishing
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correctly and you get the project finished on time and budget.
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