Plan and Prep Before Building a Non-Bearing Stud Wall

A stud wall is the most common way to divide a room. Find out what needs to be done before installing one.


©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Planning a Non-Bearing Stud Wall

A stud wall is the most common way to divide a room. Its framework is constructed of wood or metal studs strengthened by horizontal lengths (blocking) attached between them. Wires, pipes and blanket insulation can sit within the cavity between the drywall sheets, which cover both sides of the frame. The wall can be plastered or drywalled and decorated as normal.

First Things to Consider

Even a minor internal alteration may need planning permission. When planning a stud wall, check the regulations governing lighting, ventilation, and electrical circuits, and get any necessary permits before starting work.

If you need water or electricity in your new room, locate existing pipes and circuits. Work out where appliances such as radiators or sinks should go, so that pipes or wiring are sited where you need them.

Choosing Drywall and Lumber

Decide how the wall is to be finished, and choose a board that is suitable for your plans. Standard drywall is available in sheets of 4' x 8' in size. Seams should not be centered on the wall, and should be staggered. The point is to have as few seams as possible. So, lay a panel to the left of the door with a seam off-centered above the door, and then two horizontal pieces to the right of the door. Then, there are just two seams to finish. Place the boards against the ceiling and leave a small gap at the floor to be hidden by the baseboard.

Drywall Sheets

Larger sheets cover a wall quickly but are harder to carry and position.

How Much Drywall to Buy

1. Calculate the wall's area: multiply its height by its width.
2. Divide this by the area of one sheet of your chosen drywall to find out how many sheets to buy. The result will not be exact and, depending on how many cuts you need to make, you may need to buy a little extra to cover the wall, because board edges need to run down the centers of studs, so that hardware can be inserted into the studs.

Choosing Lumber

Choose framing lumber (2x4s or 2x6s). Check that the wood you buy is not misshapen: straight lengths are easier to work with and easier to attach to drywall.

How Much Lumber to Buy

Measure the length of each stud, plate and blocking, and add these together for a total length. Remember that wood lengths will not divide exactly into the lengths that you need.

Securing the Frame to an Existing Frame

A stud wall must be stable. Securing it to masonry should be possible at any point, but secure it to another wood wall at studs. Ideally, a new wall should be secured to the old wall's top and bottom plate or ceiling joists. Use a stud detector to find the stud nearest to your ideal location. If you must put a wall between studs, place screws at top and bottom, into the ceiling and sole plates and into central blocking.

Secure New Stud Frame Between Existing Wall Studs

Secure New Stud Frame Between Existing Wall Studs

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Securing the Frame to the Floor and Ceiling

Ideally, plates should cross joists. If they run in the same direction, build the wall on a floor joist. There may not be a ceiling joist aligned with this, but the ceiling plate must be attached to a solid fixture, not just to drywall. If you can't secure it directly to a joist, add blocking every 2 feet between two joists. Secure the ceiling plate to these. This method can also be used on the floor, for instance, if you cannot access ceiling joists from above.

Turning a Corner

A corner is two walls butt-joined. However, on one wall, an extra stud is added close to the corner. This provides strength, and is the securing point for drywall on the inside of the corner, because the main stud is inaccessible from that side. Ensure that the corner forms a precise right angle. Site all sole plates on or at a right angle to joists.

Planning a Metal Stud Wall

Metal is a modern alternative to wooden studs. Systems differ between manufacturers, but the basics are the same: metal channels and sectional pieces slot together to form a frame. Metal studs may be thinner than wooden ones, but they are just as strong. Preparation and layout for a metal stud wall is the same as for a wooden one. Drywall is screwed onto the metal channels, in the same way as it attaches to wood.

Channels and Tracks (image 1)
Channels form all the studs. They slot into the tracks (head and sole plates) and are easily positioned as required.



©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Sheet-Metal Screws (image 2)
Sharp, short screws make metal-to-metal connections quickly.

Sheet Metal Screws Designed for Metal to Metal

Sheet Metal Screws Designed for Metal to Metal

Photo by: DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement ©2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

DK - Do It Yourself Home Improvement, 2009 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Tin Snips (image 3)
Use these to cut tracks and channels to size.



©2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

2007 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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