How To Build Walls

Instructions on building a basic wall, standing it up, bracing it and supporting it.

Tools needed:

Hammer and if you have one, a nail gun

Circular saw

Extension cords

Six-foot bubble level

Tape measure

Wood Chisel

Air compressor for nail gun

Speed square

Framing square

Pry bar

Materials needed:

Pre-cut two by fours - number will depend on size of project

One by fours to act as a wind brace within the wall.

Framing size nails - 12 d or 16 d

Nails - 8d or 10 d that will be used for the one by four bracing.

Two by six, eight, ten or twelves to go over the windows and doors as support of outside walls. The width of the board necessary will depend upon the span needed to accommodate the window or door.

To begin, gather all your tools together, there is nothing more irritating than to get into the mood to do a major project and then have to stop every few minutes to go hunt up a needed item. To figure your needed two by fours, take a linear measure of each wall to be built. Each end will need a doubled stud support and one stud every sixteen inches in between. If there are windows or doors in the wall span, you will need to double the studs to either side of the opening.

In addition to the number of wall studs needed, you will also need two by fours to be the sole (bottom) of the walls as well as a double layer of them to work as a header (top of wall). You will also need braces to run at an angle from the floor to the wall once it is set up. The last thing you want is to get it perfectly in place only to have it fall again.

Remember the wood will be heavy so keep the length of wall sections to a manageable amount. Also, when you do begin to raise the walls, you will want at least one other person to help you. One will need to hold the wall upright while the other nails the sole down and braces into place.

Once you have everything together, you will need to take a measurement of where the wall is going to sit. Take your measurement, write it down and then check yourself. Double-checking your measurements will save material and your temper.

If you are only doing a small wall that is under ten feet long, you can probably get by with doing it all in one span. Anything over that length often becomes hard to handle. You will start off by making a "box" out of your 2x4s. When you do this, make sure your sole and header are the length of the span and your wall studs go on top of them. They do NOT nail to the ends. Be sure to use your speed square to create a straight line to cut by.

Once you have this box nailed together, hook your tape measure to one end of the sole and mark off every sixteen inches. You will repeat this with the header as well. Be sure you begin at the same end!

After you have marked both the header and the sole, lay your wall studs into your frame and nail them at the marked spots. The marks should be placed in the center of each stud. Nail the studs into place. It may look at this time that you have a wall but wait you are not done yet. For the next portion an assistant will come in very helpful.

You need to make sure at this point the wall is square. To do this, you can make a start by placing the framing square at one corner and adjusting your new wall so the edges of the square fits snugly with the edges of your wall. After doing this, have your assistant take an end of your tape measure and place it on the corner of the wall. You will go to the opposite, diagonal corner and read the measurement. Then each of you will move to the opposite end of the wall stud that you are at. If you started out at the header corner, you will then move to the sole corner. Once repositioned, you will pull another diagonal measurement. If the wall is square, the measurements will be the same. If they are not, you need to move the walls slightly in which ever way is necessary to get them into proper position. Sometimes you get lucky and get it after two or three attempts, other times it may take ten or more. It is something that becomes easier with practice.

After you have the wall square, GENTLY lay a 1x4 diagonally across the wall. While your assistant marks one end, you mark both sides of it at the other end and then mark each stud on either side of the 1x4 all the way down its length. This is where your wind brace will set. It is best if you make sure the wind brace ends up on the outside portion of the wall. Otherwise you can have difficulty with setting your insulation later.

When all the studs have been marked, set the depth of your circular saw blade to the thickness of the 1x4 and then move the board out of the way. Next you will cut several times between each of the lines you marked on the studs. A 4-inch board width will take about twelve slices for each stud. Take your hammer and hit the cut area at an angle. This will cause the wood in between the lines to come out and leave you a trench to place your 1x4 flush with the sides of your wall studs. Nail the 1x4 into place and trim the corners as needed to be flush at those ends as well.

If all is ready, move any wood pieces, tools and paraphernalia out of the work area and prepare to stand the wall up. Remember to bend at the knees and let the legs, not your back do the work. Bring the wall to waist level, the shift your grip to raise it above your head. Once it is in place, one of you will hold it steady while the other goes down the line and makes sure the sole of the wall is flush with the outer edge of your floor. Make any adjustments needed by hand or pry bar until everything is in its proper position.

After this is accomplished, one of you will need to grab a 2x4 and nail it about three-quarters of the way up a wall stud that is close to the center of the wall length. It will be nailed to in between the wall studs, not to the facing edge of the stud.

Once this is nailed, you will want to place a level on the inside or outside edge of the wall to get it plumb (straight up and down). Once it is plumb, the loose end of the brace board will be placed on the ground and a twelve-inch long piece of 2x4 will be pushed up against it as a stop. This short piece will be nailed into the floor well and the brace board will be nailed in a toenail fashion to it. Repeat the bracing procedure at each end of the wall section.

This is the basic process for building walls and will be repeated as you continue to build. Once you have two walls that join each other, you will then place the second 2x4 header on top and allow it to overlap the adjoining wall. This will help tie the walls together and stabilize them until you begin putting on your ceiling rafters.

© High Speed Ventures 2011