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How to Build a Half Wall

A half wall (also called a knee wall) is a great way to divide a space without closing it in. Use these step-by-step instructions to build one in your home.

More in Home Improvement

  • Time

    Several Weekends

  • Price Range

    $250 - $500

  • Difficulty

    Moderate to Hard

Highlights:

Step 1: Measure and Prep the Area

Examine the area you're going to build in, and take all of the necessary measurements. Check the floor to see if it's level. If it is not, adjust the dimensions of the new wall to compensate. Make notes of any obstacles such as pipes and outlets. Clean and prep the area.

Step 2: Cut the Bottom and Top Plates

Use a chalk line to snap a line on the floor between the columns to indicate the location of the bottom plate.

Cut the bottom and top plates to length. The bottom plate is the pressure-treated 2x4 that makes contact with the concrete. Place the top and bottom plates side by side and face down on the floor. With a speed square, draw a line across both plates every 16". These lines represent the center of your studs. From each of those lines, measure over 3/4" (in the same direction) and draw another line. This line represents the edge of each stud. Draw some X's over the center lines to help show the placement of the studs.

Note: The dimensions of the project determines the amount of studs needed.

Step 3: Cut the Studs

The studs should be 3-3/4" shorter than the finished height of the wall. The combined thicknesses of the bottom plate, top plate and 1x6 clear pine cap will make up that difference.

Step 4: Position and Secure the Studs

Place the top and bottom plates on their edges on the floor with the lines facing inward. Position the studs between the top and bottom plates and line them up with the corresponding lines on each plate. Use a pneumatic framing gun to nail the studs into the top and bottom plates.

Step 5: Position and Secure the Frame

Place the completed half-wall frame on the line you chalked earlier between the two columns. Make sure it is the pressure-treated bottom plate that makes contact with the concrete. Once the frame is in place, check to see if it's level. Use shims to make any adjustments.

Use the hammer drill to pre-drill holes through the bottom plate and into the floor. Use Tapcon screws to fasten the bottom plate to the concrete, spacing the screws about 10 to 12" apart. Zigzag the placement of the screws as you work your way down the bottom plate. Put the finished frame in place between the columns.

Step 6: Attach the Drywall and Finish the Wall

Cut the 1/2" drywall to size and cover both sides of the frame. Use the screw gun and 1-1/4" drywall screws to attach the drywall, screwing it into the studs, which are 16" apart. Make sure the top edge of the drywall is flush with the top of the top plate. Mud, tape and sand any seams.

Cut the 1x6 clear pine cap to length. Nail it in place using the 18-gauge finish nailer. Stain or paint the cap. Finish by priming and painting the drywall and adding some base molding.

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