How to Frame A Partition Wall

I’m currently in a basement framing job, and my agent is my friend, and he asked me: “what’s the easiest part of the framing? And I said: “of course it’s walls, especially interior ones.”

In this article, I will discuss every detail that you need to build your partition walls or interior walls from scratch, so be prepared and focus by keeping reading.


Non-loadbearing or partition walls are typically built with 2× 4 lumber and are supported by the ceiling or floor joists above or by blocking between the joists. For basement walls that sit on bare concrete, use pressure-treated lumber for the bottom plates.

This project shows you how to build a wall in place, rather than how to build a complete wall on the floor and tilt it upright, as in new construction. The build-in-place method allows for variations in floor and ceiling levels and is generally much easier for remodeling projects.

If your wall will include a door or other opening, see my upcoming post before laying out the wall. Note: After your walls are framed, and the mechanical rough-ins are completed, be sure to install metal protector plates where pipes and wires run through framing members.

Tools&Materials Chalk line ■ circular saw ■ framing square ■ plumb bob ■ powder-actuated nailer ■ T-bevel ■ 2 ×4 lumber ■ blocking lumber ■ 16d and 8d common nails ■ concrete fasteners ■ wallboard screws.

Variations for Fastening Top Plates to Joists

When a new wall is perpendicular to the ceiling or floor joists above, attach the top plate directly to the joists, using 16d nails.

When a new wall falls between parallel joists, install 2 × 4 blocking between the joists every 24″.The blocking supports the new wall’s top plate and provides backing for the ceiling wallboard. If the new wall is aligned with a parallel joist, install blocks on both sides of the wall, and attach the top plate to the joist.

What is the most common material used for interior walls? Materials utilized in wall construction embody brick, stone, concrete, and clay blocks, cast-in-place concrete, rammed earth, sods, lumber sleepers, steel sheets, gabions, and earth-filled structures. Drywall, otherwise known as gypsum wallboard, has replaced the plaster as the most common wall surface in US homes. It is used as a backing for wall treatments like wallpaper, fabric, tile, and wood panel.

Variations for Fastening Bottom Plates to Joists

If a new wall is aligned with a joist below, install the bottom plate directly over the joist or off-center over the joist (inset). The off-center placement allows you to nail into the joist but provides room underneath the plate for pipes or wiring to go up into the wall.

If a new wall falls between parallel joists, install 2 × 6 or larger blocking between the two joists below, spaced 24″ on center. Nail the bottom plate through the subfloor and into the blocking.

How to Build a Partition Wall

  • Mark the location of the leading edge of the new wall’s top plate, then snap a chalk line through the marks across the joists or blocks. Use a framing square, or take measurements, to make sure the line is perpendicular to any intersecting walls. Cut the top and bottom plates to length.

  • Set the plates together with their ends flush. Measure from the end of one plate, and make marks for the location of each stud. The first stud should fall 151⁄4″ from the end; every stud thereafter should fall 16″ on center. Thus, the first 4 × 8-ft. Wallboard panel will cover the first stud and “break” in the center of the fourth stud. Use a square to extend the marks across both plates. Draw an “X” at each stud location.

  • Position the top plate against the joists, aligning its leading edge with the chalk line. Attach the plate with two 16d nails driven into each joist. Start at one end and adjust the plate as you go to keep the leading edge flush with the chalk line.

  • To position, the bottom plate, hang a plumb bob from the side edge of the top plate, so the point nearly touches the floor. When it hangs motionless, mark the point’s location on the floor. Make plumb markings at each end of the top plate, then snap a chalk line between the marks. Position the bottom plate along the chalk line, and use the plumb bob to align the stud markings between the two plates.

  • Fasten the bottom plate to the floor. On concrete, use a powder-actuated nailer or masonry screws driving a pin or screw every 16″. On wood floors, use 16d nails driven into the joists or sleepers below.

  • Measure between the plates for the length of each stud. Cut each stud, so it fits snugly in place but is not so tight that it bows the joists above. If you cut a stud too short, see if it will fit somewhere else down the wall.

  • Install the studs by toenailing them at a 60° angle through the sides of the studs and into the plates. At each end, drive two 8d nails through one side of the stud and one more through the center on the other side.

Blocking and Fireblocks Plan ahead for where you will install heavy items or bars and racks. The top photo below shows framing for a television: Wide wood pieces are secured to the metal studs, and short lengths of metal framing are anchored to the wall, then to the studs, for added stiffness. The bottom photo shows two types of blocking: the 2x4s on edge (with the wide part facing inward) are positioned where towel racks will be installed. The fl at-laid 2x4s are “fire blocking,” which is required in some areas and is always a good idea because it stiffens the framing.

Framing a Plumbing Wall

  • A plumbing wall encases large pipes, and so must be built with 2x6s or even 2x8s. Because the framing must be cut out substantially to accommodate pipes, work carefully to make the wall as strong as possible. Make your plate cutouts to fit snugly around pipes.
  • Attach the top plate to ceiling framing wherever possible and drive plenty of masonry screws for the floor plate. You may need to put studs at odd spacings. Mark the bottom plate for the stud locations and set a laser plumb tool on the layout line pointed up.
  • Where the level’s dot hits the top plate, draw a layout line. (Be sure to put the X on the same side as on the bottom plate.).
  • Cut studs and attach them with toenails.

Provide access where needed. Wherever there is a cleanout, shutoff valve, or other plumbing parts that may need to be accessed for servicing, be sure to install a removable panel. The same goes for any electrical box; it should not be permanently covered over.

AVOID PIPES IN THE FLOOR If there are pipes or tubing in the floor, and you have taken photos of them, be sure to refer to them to avoid disaster. Let the photos serve as a guide when you drive masonry screws or powder-actuated nails, so you don’t poke into the pipes.

Framing a shower stall

If you use a formed concrete or plastic shower base, you must frame the shower to the size of the base, following the manufacturer’s specifications. (Here we will make a custom tiled base, so the exact size of the opening is not important.) For comfort, most people appreciate a shower that is at least 36 in. Square. The sides are framed with blocking pieces to a height of 16 in. Or so. At the front, two 2x4s are stacked and attached to the floor to form the step into the shower.

A well-framed shower stall includes blocking pieces at the bottom so the wall will stay firm even if kicked.

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