DIY Skill Set 1: Framing Interior Walls
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DIY Skill Set 1: Framing Interior Walls

The reader will learn the difference between load-bearing and non-load bearing walls. The reading will also learn how to frame out an interior wall and how to hang a pre-hung interior door.

More and more young families today are taking on major remodeling jobs as family projects, projects like converting an unfinished basement into a finished living space. Some people may want to convert their basement into a single large room like a family room/home theater combination while others might want to finish it off into several rooms, like a laundry room, home office, crafts room and spare bedroom. Since everyone’s needs and desires will differ, I only intend to cover some basic skill sets that can be applied to any interior remodeling project in these DIY Skill Set Articles.

There are basically two types of walls, “Load-Bearing walls” and “non-Load Bearing Walls.” A “Load-Bearing Wall” may be defined as a wall that is the primary support for the structure above it. Outside walls transfer the load of the roof and floors to the foundation, and are thus "load-bearing walls". Interior walls can also be "load-bearing" by supporting floors and other walls above. Non-load-bearing walls are merely dividers between areas or rooms and carry no weight besides their own. Load-bearing walls, or any portion thereof, cannot be removed without being first replaced by large wood, laminate, or metal structural beams that transfer the vertical load above to appropriately sized studs on each end. “Non-Load Bearing Walls” may be defined as walls that support only themselves; they are interior partition walls. In this article I’m going to cover framing an interior wall since they are easier to handle than an exterior load-bearing wall. For this instructional I will assume that there will be one opening in the wall for an interior, pre-hung door.

To begin with here are the basic tools and supplies that you will need to frame an interior wall.

· 16oz claw hammer

· 7 ¼” circular saw

· Electronic stud finder

· Tape measure

· Combination square

· Speed square

· Carpenter’s square

· 2 foot or 4 foot level

· Plumb bob

· Chalk line w/blue chalk

· Caulk gun

· Construction adhesive

· Common box nails (4d, 6d, 8d and 16d)

· Hardened concrete nails, 8d

· Metal connectors

· Flat metal plates

· 2X4 lumber

· Quick Door Hangers™

Building the wall

· None-load bearing interior walls may run perpendicular to or parallel with the existing joist. If the new wall is running perpendicular to the joist the top plate will be nailed directly to the existing joists. If the new wall will run parallel to the joist but not directly under a joist 2X4 blocking will have to be installed between the joist at 24” intervals and the top plate of the new wall will then be nailed to the clocking. If you are dividing up a room that has a finished ceiling, use the electronic stud finder to locate and mark both sides of the ceiling joists and mark the direction that they run in. If you are working in a room with a finished ceiling and the new partition will run parallel to but not under a joist you will have to remove enough of the ceiling finish to install the blocking between the ceiling joists.

· Cut the top plate and the sill plate at the same time and then lay them side by side on the floor and mark the position of the studs. For interior, non-load bearing walls the studs can be positioned either 16” or 24” o.c. (On Center). However if you intend to insulate the interior walls with fiberglass batting, go with the 16” spacing because that’s what the batting is cut for. While we are talking about stud spacing, this is a good time to introduce you to a handy calculator that will calculate the number of studs that you will need. Let’s say that you’re going to build two walls to enclose a portion of the basement being used as a laundry room. The finished laundry room will be 10’ X 12’ with one opening for a pre-hung interior door. To set the calculator up we use 22 feet for the wall length, 16” for the stud spacing, 4 for the number of corners, 0 for the number of spaces and 1 for the number of openings. Plugging those numbers into the calculator you will see that you will need 24 2X4s. To that figure add another 5 2”X4”X16’ pieces for the top plates and sill plates.

· With the top plate and sill plate lying next to one another mark the edges of each stud using the combination square. Make an “X” at each studs location and another “X” at one end of the top plate and sill plate so you won’t accidentally reverse one when installing them.

· Measure out from an existing wall to where the new wall’s top plate will be located and then snap a line. Using this line as guide nail the top plate in place,

· Using the plumb bob mark on the floor where one edge of the top plate is located at both ends of the wall and then snap a line between them

· Using this chalk line as a guide nail the sole plate in place

· Using your tape measure, measure between the top plate and sill plate and cut the studs to length. I prefer cutting them 1/16” longer and drive them in place with a hammer. If the floor or ceiling of the room isn’t level the length of the studs will vary so may want to measure and cut them individually.

· Secure the studs to the top plate and sill plate by nailing through metal connectors over the joints or by toe nailing the studs directly to the top plate and sole plate.

· There are three basic corners used when framing interior walls- L-corners, T-corner meets stud and T-corner between studs. For an L-Corner nail 2X4 spacers to the inside edge of the end studs and then nail another stud to the spacers. The extra stud provides the nailing surface for the wallboard or other wall finish on the inside corners. For T-Corner nail 2X2 backers to each side of the stud to provide nailing surfaces for the inside corners. For a T-Corner between studs fasten a 1X6 to the back of the stud for nailing surface

Rough framing the door opening

· Locate the position of where the pre-hung interior door will go. The rough opening sized depends on the size of the pre-hung door being installed. Here’s a handy chart that will help you determine the rough opening size.


Unit Dimensions

R.O. Width

R.O. Height

18" - 19-1/2" x 81-1/2"



20" - 21-1/2" x 81-1/2"



24" - 25-1/2" x 81-1/2"



28" - 29-1/2" x 81-1/2"



30" - 31-1/2" x 81-1/2"



32" - 33-1/2" x 81-1/2"



36" - 37-1/2" x 81-1/2"



· The rough opening consists of 2 King studs (full length studs), 2 Jack studs which extend from the sill plate to the double header (the double header rests on the Jack studs) and 3 “Cripples” (short studs that extend between the header and the top plate).

· Cut out the sill plate to match the R.O. (Rough Opening) width.

· Nail the King Studs in place using a level to make sure that they are perfectly plumb. Use a scrap piece of 2X4 to position the King Studs the right distance from the end of the sill plate

· Cut the Jack Studs and nail them to the King studs.

· Cut the headers to length and nail them to the top of the Jack Studs. Check the opening for squareness using the carpenter’s square before proceeding

· Cut and install the three “cripples.”

Hanging a pre-hung door

Hanging pre-hung doors has become a really simple matter with the new Quick Door Hanger System™. Even professional use this system now because it’s faster and easier than the system we use to use. Here’s a link to the Quick Door Hanger Site and a very good video tutorial on how to use the system for perfect results the very first time you use it.

Coming up in DIY basic skill set 2

In skill set 2 you will learn how to install electrical wiring for receptacles and switches in a wall in a way that will meet the requirements of the NEC (National Electric Code) as well as your local building codes.

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Comments (5)

Exciting! Another "series" that I know you will do a great job on. One question on this one: Does anyone really use a plumb bob anymore? I've never owned one and I've built a few houses just using a four foot level, horizontally as well as vertically, When it is necessary to span top to bottom, the level can just be used along with a stud. I'm looking forward to the wiring skill set. I could really use some "schooling" on this. It's the one area of building trades I've always avoided. I hardly know the basics.

Ooops, out of votes...I'll be back!

Good morning Kevin Maybe it just us old timers but I know many people who still use plumb bobs. Believce it or not, even Bob Vila and his crew still uses them. If I'm working near a wall I'll use a 4 foot level but if I'm working away from a wall I prefer the plumb bob. Many times I work alone so using a plumb bob is quicker and rasier than trying to keep a stud perfectly plumb vertically between floor and top plate to mark the placement of the sill plate. As for electrical, I'm currently working on a series of Ebooks that will teach electrical theory and it's practical applications. The series will take the form of a 52 lesson e-course with each installment covering a different topic and its practical application. The lessons will take a hands-on approach that combines theory with a practical project that the DIY electrician can use to improve the safety and efficientcy of his or her home's electrical system. I'm not sure yet how I'm going to market these Ebooks. I'm tossing a couple of ideas around in my head right now. I'm thinking of selling each book for $5 but offering a deep discount if a person subscribes to receive the complete series of 50+ lessons. At $5 a lesson 50 lessons would cost $250 but for those who subscribe I will offer the complete series for $100 and that's $2 a lesson. Any ideas, suggestions, comments?

Who me? Ideas, suggestions and comments? Also known as brain farts...Yeah, I got enough to keep us all in trouble! Poor Mike Q. says "We'd love your feedback" then I bombard him till he's sorry he asked. lol. He should revise it to say "We'd would love your feedback everyone...except Kevin" I hit him up recently, more than once actually, with the idea of a "Factoidz eBook Store" My thinking is, many articles, by an author or a collaberation of authors, on the same topic gathered into one complete and organized, downloadable file. The stuff you do would be ideal. I love how you do these "series" eBooks are usually low quality trash. Some are eBooks about how to market eBooks that teach how to market eBooks! As Diane Wolf put it in this excellent article about making money at home: She calls this "The great roundabout on the information super highway" Dontcha love that? I think she coined a phrase. That's problem number one with eBooks. I've bought a couple, for $5.00, and was NOT disappointed at all though. It's just a matter of changing the image. Problem number two, isn't a problem IMO. Even though they could search and download, or link up, or copy and paste and piece it together... I think many would rather simply download it for a quick paypal deposit. Problem three, refers back to two...If that's the case, it would have to be inexpensive enough to make it not worth the trouble to scavenge it. So I hate to take the wind out of your sail, but I think you would have to sell an eBook at a price in line with a hardcopy: $25.00 - $30.00 However! You may be able to justify a slightly higher price, and encourage many more sales as well, because it would include one on one mentoring right within the Factoidz comments; chapter by chapter. The questions and answers could help you to also develop a more complete book. After a while, and a couple of revisions to the eBook, you would have quite a "work" that would easily be self (on-demand) published, and maybe ALSO sold at the Factoidz bookstore. That's it! Hope you're not sorry you asked ;-)

Nope. I'm not sorry that I asked because you put into words many of the things that were already floating around in the back of my mind. Thanks.