Building A Garage Part 4 - Laying the Wall

A garage.
  • 4-8 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 400-500

Studs (wall framing members) are placed on either 16" or 24" centers. This means from the exact center of one stud to the exact center of the adjacent stud is 16 or 24 inches. Check your local building code to see which distance is required. It will often depend on any snow or roof load.

We find it less confusing to use the following symbols when laying out the different pieces:

  • X-Standard Stud
  • T-Trimmer Stud
  • K-King Stud
  • C-Cripple Stud (used above doors or windows and below windows)

The garage floor is the best choice for your workspace, being large and flat and in as close proximity to your walls as you can get.

Most Common Mistakes

Some of the most common mistakes include not adjusting 3/4 of an inch for your first layout mark, not following a continuous 16 or 24-inch layout, not using a framing square for layout, not using straight plates, placing studs on the wrong side of the layout mark, and studs that are not nailed flush with plates. Make sure to avoid making any of these mistakes.


If possible, begin with a wall that contains no openings. This will give you a feel for the work without adding any variables. Choose your straightest 2x4 for the plates. Remember that top plates must break over a stud and all top plate splices must be at least 4 feet from any splice in the bottom or cap plates. It may be necessary to cut your top plates as you progress in your layout to be sure they meet over a stud.

Sight down each plate and turn it so the crown will be turned up. Then turn both top and bottom plates on their sides and put them together using large jaw clamps. You can temporarily nail the plates together also.

Beginning at the end of a plate that goes all the way to the end of a wall, measure in exactly 3/4 of an inch and make a mark across both of the plates.

NOTE: This 3/4" adjustment is made so that the edge of your first piece of sheathing or siding will come to the outside edge of the corner stud rather than the center of it. All sheathing (except the first and last piece) needs to fall on the center of the studs to provide a nailing surface for the adjoining piece of sheathing by reducing your first measurements by 3/4' (one half the width of a 1 and 1/2 inch stud) you shift the edge of the first piece of sheathing from the center to the outer edge of the first stud.

Drive a nail into this 3/4" mark so that you can hook your tape measure onto it when measuring for stud spacing in the next step. Now measure and mark at 16" intervals (or 24" intervals if your code specifies) from this nail. The marks you make every 16" will not represent the centers of the studs as you might expect. The marks represent the edge of the studs.

Place an X on the side of the mark nearest the starting nail. This will indicate which side of the layout mark your studs will be placed. Make these Xs on both plates. This spaces the studs so that the edge of the sheathing will fall in the middle of a stud.

Place three Xs (representing three studs) at the end of the plates where you began the layout. These three Xs mark the three stud corners. After completing the layout, separate the plates by the distance of a stud length. By using pre-cut studs, you need only lay the studs out at the X's between the marked top and bottom plates, without any measuring and sawing. (Check local code and your blueprints for the proper height for standard walls in your area when ordering.) Nail the wall together as described in Section 5.

Three Stud Corner

The Three Stud Corner is a good choice for stability and the best choice for providing a nailing surface for interior wall covering, should you opt to use one. This corner is made up of three studs nailed together or two studs sandwiching blocking that acts as a spacer. ConstructionMake sure the nailing flush on all surfaces.


At the same end of the wall where you began your layout, three studs are nailed together and installed into the wall as it is being assembled on the garage floor. Secure all corners together with 16d nails every 16 inches.

At the opposite end of the wall, where the plates are 3-1/2 inches shy of the edge of the foundation (due to the overlapping walls) place a single stud.

Wall with Doors or Windows

In many ways, laying out the walls with standard openings of doors and windows should be handled the same as walls without openings. Even when placing doors or windows, you will need to continue with the 16" (or 24") spacing for the cripple studs.

Most Common Mistakes

Make sure the boards are cut to the right size, don't use warped or bowed stock around openings. Also, confirm the headers are not nailed flush with king studs. Do not build the opening with the wrong dimensions. Check all measurements three times. This is by far the most common mistake in wall building.


After you have completed your normal layout as described in Sections 2 and 3, you will also need to mark the centerlines of all door and window openings onto the plates. When positioning a door or window opening in a wall, check your blueprints for the distance from the edge of the wall to the center of the door or window opening. Measure and mark that position on both plates.

The width of the "rough opening" is equal to the outside dimensions of the door or window opening. it includes the jamb plus ½ inch for margin of error. The rough opening widths and heights should be marked on your plans or in your window manufacturer's specification chart. Each manufacturer will specify these measurements for each window or door unit. Measure ½ of the rough opening width in either direction from the center mark and draw a line across both plates. Check your measurements three times to be sure.If the center of a window is 5' 4" from the edge of the wall, measure in that di

If the center of a window is 5' 4" from the edge of the wall, measure in that distance from the end of the wall and make your center line mark. If your rough opening is 3'4" (40"), measure 20 inches to each side of the centerline mark. Draw a line across both plates.

Next, mark the positions of the trimmer and king studs, remembering that these fall to the outside of the marks. The rough opening width is measured from the inside surface of one trimmer stud to the inside surface of the other trimmer stud. Place a T (for the trimmer) on the outside of each line. Place a K (for the king stud) on the outside of each T. This shows the placement of the trimmer-king studs. The king and trimmer will both be full-sized studs if you are using metal header hangers. You will need to cut the trimmer to size if you are not using these metal fasteners. Both of these studs should be of the straightest stock possible.

Nail the trimmer to the king with 16d nails at a slight angle every 16 inches. Be sure the trimmer and the king are flush along all edges as well as flush with the plates at either end.

Over the door or window opening is placed a header. This can be made like a sand

Over the door or window opening is placed a header. This can be made like a sandwich from two pieces of standard 2-inch stock with a filler of ½ inch plywood. This will create a 3½ inch thick header (1½" + ½ + 1½") to match the 3½ inch thick wall. Also 3½" thick header stock is available in some areas. The size boards to use (2x6", 2x8", 2x12" etc.) will be determined by your local code. Often builders will use 2" x 12' which requires no cripple studs above it, thereby making the framing easier.

Headers can be attached to the trimmer and king studs in two ways. The simplest is to use metal header hangers that hang the header from the studs. In this case, both the trimmer and king studs are full-size studs. Measure and cut the header stock to the width of the rough opening. The alternative is sitting the header on top of the trimmer stud and nailing it into the king stud. The trimmer is cut so that the bottom of the header is at the required height of the opening. Here the header is cut to the rough opening width, plus 3 inches so that it sits on top of the trimmer studs.

Check your plans to determine the exact height of the headers. For most openings, the distance from the slab to the bottom of the header is 6'9" (81 inches). This accommodates a standard 6'8" door plus one inch for the jamb and play.

Rough sills or sill supports for windows should be cut to the width of the rough opening. Check your blueprint for the distance of the sill from the floor, then measure and mark it on the trimmer studs. The sill supports can be easily attached with special metal fasteners called training clips.

Cripple studs are standard 2x4" used above door and window openings between the header and the top plate (unless you have used a 2x12" header) and below window opening between the rough sill and the bottom plate. There should be one cripple stud for each original 16' layout mark X falling within the rough opening. Change these Xs to Cs. The cripple stud should be "toenailed" (at an angle) into the header. Be sure all cripple studs above the opening are exactly in line with those below the opening.

Nail all framing pieces together with 16d nails or use the nails provided with the metal fasteners. The portion of the bottom plate which falls within the door opening will be cut out before installing the door.