Simple Layout and Framing of Walls
Learn How to Layout and Frame Walls
By Mark J. Donovan
|Framing walls is a fundamental skill that you need to
master if you plan to build your own shed, home addition, or house.
Framing walls is rough carpentry and typically involves assembling
2x4s or 2x6s in a specific manner to create a rough wall that drywall
and exterior sheathing can be hung on. Framed walls also are used for
holding insulation and running electrical wiring and plumbing pipes
through. In essence framed walls act as the skeletal structure of a
home and provide much of its strength.
There are two ways to frame walls. The most common way to construct
framed walls is down on a level surface. Once a framed wall is constructed
it is lifted and secured into place. The other method of framing walls is
known as stick framing. With this method the wall is framed vertically
When laying out and framing walls it is important to understand both the
desired finished dimensions of a room and the thicknesses of the wall studs and
drywall. For example 2x4s have a width dimension of around 3-1/2 inches. Drywall
has a thickness dimension of either 1/2 or 5/8 inches. So when building and
positioning walls it is important to account for these structural dimensions
when designing your home, shed, or home addition.
When framing a wall it consists of three main components, a top and bottom
plate and series of vertical wall studs. In addition, if window or doors are
required in the wall, header plates and king and jack studs will be required.
Also filler pieces, or cripple studs, are needed between door/window
header plates and the top and bottom wall plates.
The vertical wall studs are typically spaced on either 16 or 24 inch centers,
with 16 inch spacing being the most common. This allows common 4'x8' dimensional
sheathing to easily break on the center of the wall studs and attach to them.
The easiest way to frame a wall is on the deck of the new home or home
addition, near the location where it is to be positioned.
To layout and
frame a wall cut two straight 2x4s (or 2x6s depending on how thick you
want the wall) to the desired length of the wall.
If the wall is very long you'll need a second top plate to sister to the
first top plate.
Place the two cut 2x4s parallel to one another and separated
approximately the desired height of the wall. Now use your square to layout and
mark where you'll attach your vertical wall studs. Start on one side of the top
plate and place the narrower width of the carpenter square 15-1/4 inches from
the end of the top plate. You'll need a tape measure for this. The square's edge
that is the closet to the end of the top plate is the leading edge of the first
wall stud. Use a pencil and mark a line on the top plate on both sides of the
square. Then remove your square and place an X in the area between the pencil
marks. This is where you'll place your wall stud and it will put the center of the wall stud at 16 inches from the end of
the top plate.
Next measure 16 inches from the leading edge of the first wall
stud mark and repeat the process of marking the location of the stud. Continue
this process down the length of the top plate. Finally, use your square and
pencil to mark the location of wall studs at the ends of the top wall plate.
Then repeat the process on the bottom plate.
If you are installing doors and windows in the framed wall you
should layout and mark the locations of the king and jack studs
associated with the door or window first. The 16 inch on center wall
studs that make up the remaining portion of the wall, and any cripple
wall studs, can then be marked afterwards.
After marking up your top and bottom plates you can then cut to
length your vertical stud members and then fasten them to the top and
bottom plates using 16d common nails. Use two nails per wall stud to
plate connection. Once the wall is framed you can then lift it into
place. You'll need at least another pair of hands to do this. Make
sure the wall is level and square and then nail it to the deck. Also
use a few spring boards to hold it in place while you build the other
connecting walls. The spring boards should be nailed at about halfway
up the framed wall and then positioned outwards at a diagonal and
nailed to the deck.
For a comprehensive new home construction
checklist, see my
New Home Construction Bid Sheet. The New Home Construction Bid
Sheet provides a request for quote checklist section that you can provide to
prospective building contractors. It also includes a comprehensive new home
construction cost breakdown table, in Microsoft Excel format, that allows the
contractor to include his projected new home construction costs for every phase
of the project.
How to Finance your New Home Construction Project -
can help provide funds for your new home improvement project if financing is
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