This article will discuss the best way to approach exterior wall studs that need repair. There are many reasons why exterior wall studs would have to be repaired or replaced: decay caused by mold or termites, structural damage, reinforcements or renovations. When it becomes necessary to access exterior wall studs, you will want to proceed in a way that is the least invasive.
Repairing existing wall studs may require the destruction of the interior wall finish (sheetrock, baseboard, crown molding), roofing material (decking, shingles) and sometimes even the exterior cladding (brick, siding, sheathing). Here are some tips that will help you repair the studs while keeping most of the undamaged materials intact.
Step 1 - Locate the Studs in Need of Repair
You will only want to replace studs that are in need of repair. It may be difficult to identify damaged studs without visual access to the stud wall, which means the removal of the sheetrock. It is often not necessary to replace entire wall sections (individual studs can easily be replaced).
Step 2 - Remove the Interior Wall Material
Using any combination of a nail puller, crowbar, hammer and hammer claw, remove only the section of the interior wall material (usually it's sheetrock) that will allow you access to the damaged studs. Use your utility knife to neatly trim the edges of the sheetrock on both sides of the access hole. Cut straight down along the center of the studs on each side. This is so that full-lengths of the new sheetrock will butt cleanly up against the adjacent sheets at the seams.
Step 3 - Replace the Damaged Studs with New Studs
Use your framing hammer to knock loose the damaged stud at one end and pry it loose. Measure the distance between the top and bottom plates and cut the new studs to length, if necessary. The new studs can go in place of the removed studs if they are 16 inches on center. Use a level to plumb each new stud that you install and nail it in place, toenailing into the top and bottom plates. This is where a pneumatic or cordless nail gun is invaluable. The existing wall material will obstruct your hammer swing and make it difficult to get a good angle for nailing. If all you have is a hammer, you may have to remove sheetrock from the ceiling to expose more of the structural wood frame. It should be possible to replace the wall studs without affecting the exterior wall material.
Step 4 - Replace the Sheetrock and Trim
Install sheetrock onto the interior wall surface where it had been removed, using full sheets where ever possible. Replace any baseboard or crown molding that had been removed, matching the style and material. For baseboards and moldings, make a miter cut at both ends, and then nail through the miter into a stud with finishing nails.