Divide & Conquer: Building Walls with Barbara K!

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Dividing up space is much easier and less expensive than you might think. Creating walls offer the most opportunity for simple, yet dramatic change. Even better, wall projects are among the easiest and least expensive of all home improvement projects.

I always say if you understand the way a wall is built, you understand a lot about life. A wall doesn't stay up by itself--it needs a support system of studs (not the cute guy) and tracks for stability and permanence. Also, you can choose from several finishes (depending on your budget) from paint, faux finish, wallpaper and wainscoting. Lastly, get a friend or two to help (sheetrock is heavy) this makes a fun weekend project and it is one "home goal" that will get you feeling that there is nothing you can't accomplish!

You can create this opening for a bedroom, office, baby's room or storage. Most of the time, you will be required to install a door in your new partition or some means of access. This can be a pre- hung wood door, sliding pocket door, curtains or just a finished opening. Take into consideration before you lay out your wall where your room will be in consideration to your lighting and electrical components, i.e. smoke detector, switches and or outlets.( if this is required you will have to call a licensed electrician)

In assembling your new drywall partition you can use either use metal studs or wood studs. Check with your local building department for the code or your building maitainece before as the wood may not be fire rated. I recommend metal studs because they are fire rated, easier to use and once you use them you'll never go back to wood!

You will need to figure out the length of your wall and make a list of supplies you will need. Preparation is key!

Let's say you will erect a 10' wide partition by 8' high.

Your list should include:

  • metal or wood studs to frame the wall,

  • your drywall (5/8") (sheetrock) to sheath the wall

  • screws (1"1/4 drywall screws)

  • joint compound (spackle) drywall tape

  • and a means of access to the room (door, pocket door, bi fold, curtains etc)

You can also insulate the wall as it would be better for a sound barrier, heating and cooling.

For tools you will need:

  • Screw gun (no 2 screw Philips screw bit)

  • tape measure,

  • tin snips

  • utility knife

  • taping knife

  • 4' level

  • pencil or marker

  • framing square

First install the track along the floor where your partition will be. Next using your level and marker draw a level and square line from the corner of your new base track to where your ceiling track will go in the exact location of your base track. Secure your base track to the floor using two or three screws to temporarily secure. Do the same with your ceiling track using your screws.

Now you are ready to install your 8' high studs in between your ceiling track and floor track every 16" on center (Although you will not be required to screw these in securely until the end).

Once you've completed the temporary installation you will want to determine if this structure is correct. Now, determine where you want to place your door or opening. A rough opening will be required to install a door or finished opening. Decide where you want this to be and omit these studs.

If you decide to go with the finished opening (no door) than you will simply sheetrock this opening using the drywall and corner bead, tape and joint compound.

If you choose to install a door, purchase the type of door that suits your style and follow the manufacturer’s instructions of how to install a door. In creating a rough opening if you choose to use a door, in your directions you will be required to install a header and most likely wood to screw the door jamb into. Make sure you have the door on site during the building of your new partition so you may check for proper installation while building your new partition.

After you have installed the door into your opening, loosely screw the left and right hand side of your door into your new partition. Leave the door shut as you begin sheetrocking one side of the partition. Open the door (then shut it) and sheetrock the opposite side. There are a few ways to sheetrock and different variables. For this application we are assuming you will take your 4x8 sheets and install from left to right (not top to bottom) and this will be easier and more manageable for you to handle. Use your utility knife to score the drywall and break if you need to make cuts. You can add more studs into the wall (don't be shy) using your 1" 1/4" screws.

Slide your studs from top to bottom approximately 16" on center off the left or right side of the wall. Mark at the base of your new partition along the floor track starting at either side, with a pencil every 16' and make sure it is visible after you put up your sheetrock.

You will need to see this mark after you put the sheetrock up so you can see where to put the screw into the sheetock and stud. Start by screwing the bottom of your sheetrock along the track every 10" and work your way up each stud app 8' distance between each screw. (Note: make sure your screw DOES NOT go all the way through the sheetrock) When installing your screw make sure as to not rip the paper of the sheetrock but set your screw far enough into the sheetrock so it won't be visible after it is finished (Insulation may be used between studs).

Once all the boards are in place and secure, take your drywall tape and place along the seams using your taping knife. Make sure there it is nice and even. Then take your joint compound and spackle knife and spread the compound evenly over the tape. Wait until it dries, give it another coat and sand with a sanding block.

After that is dry, prime your wall with an interior latex primer and you are now ready for the finish!

Viola, you now have a new room!

For my tips, videos and how-to’s please visit my website at www.barbarasway.com

Do it…Barbara’s Way!

Barbara K
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