How to Build a Stud Wall Part 1

What You'll Need
Carpenters Square
Framing Level
Plumb Bob
Marking Chalk
Portable Compressor
Framing Nail Gun
2-3 Inch Nails for Nail Gun
Windows (Optional)
Doors (Optional)
Silicone Caulking
Caulking Gun
Safety Glasses
Sturdy Gloves

With today’s internet, and many of the locally available home improvement outlets, learning how to build a stud wall will not be as much a mystery as it has been in the past. With careful planning, the right tools and lumber, this project can be completed professionally resulting in a minimum expenditure of time and cost. One thing that will make this project easier and faster to complete is the use of a portable air compression and a framing nail gun. If not used properly, this can cause severe injury which could also occur with normal hammering and nailing. (This is Part 1 of a 3 part series. To move ahead to Part 2, click here.)

Step 1, Begin with a Plan

It will be extremely worthwhile to begin with a drawing of the planned wall construction. It is often recommended that to comply with building codes and uniformity, most walls that are built will plan to place studs with their centers measuring 16 inches from center to center.

This is accurate, but to accommodate for attaching dry wall securely, it should be mentioned that an additional 2x4 must be attached to each end of adjacent walls. This added lumber will provide a place to secure both inner and outer dry wall and siding. An additional overlapping upper plate should be used to connect each of the stud wall constructions for further stability and strength.

Be sure to purchase and incorporate any necessary windows and doors into the plan before construction of the final wall structures. “Rough in” the dimensions for any windows and doors, as per manufacturer’s instructions. Each unit will come with these dimensions. Although custom products may often be desired, purchasing standard windows and doors will result in huge savings.

Incorporate headers into drawings. These are necessary structures which will be used to transfer equal weight of the roofing over the doors or windows to the actual foundation. The construction of this header must be substantial. Usually a ½ inch sheet of plywood, sandwiched between two pieces of 2”x 8” lumber will suffice.

Although the 2x4s for the actual stud framing of the walls are usually nailed in place without gluing, these headers need to have glue applied between pieces for additional strength. They should also be thoroughly nailed together before affixing them to the wall structures.

Step 2, Determining Crown Placement

Correctly placing the “crown” of lumber will greatly add to its strength and thereby prevent sagging. This is especially important in attaching cross member 2x4s and headers. To determine the crown of a board it is necessary to look very closely and see which way the grain is running, and if it runs upward or downward.

When a load is correctly placed on a board crown, the board will want to naturally want to return to its plane of flatness. If a load is incorrectly placed on a board crown then it will tend to sag in the middle. This sag will result in a sagging roof, doorway or window frame. This is extremely important for horizontal boards, but not as critical for vertical applications.