How to Frame Basement Walls -

How to Frame Basement Walls

Basement Wall Framing

Begin by deciding exactly where the wall will go. Use a framing square and a chalk line to mark its location on the floor. For long walls, check for square using the 3-4-5 method. Watch a video. Using a framing level and a straight 2x4 that is as high as your basement ceiling, mark the wall location on the ceiling, joists, or cross bracing. These marks will help you position the wall before you plumb it. Make sure there is adequate framing in the ceiling to which you can nail the top plate.
When framing a basement wall, you can use either of 2 methods.- You can assemble the wall frame on floor and raise the wall framing into place or you can build the wall framing in place starting at floor. We will review the assemble and raise method first.

Cut and mark the plates

Using your floor layout as a guide, mark and cut 2x4s for the top and bottom plates. Place them on edge beside each other and mark for the studs. The first stud will be at the end of the wall. The remaining studs should be 16 inches on center, meaning that from the edge of the wall to the center of each stud will be a multiple of 16. Make a mark every 16 inches; then with a combination or speed square draw lines 3/4 inch on each side of your first marks. Draw an X in the middle of the marks to show where to nail the studs.

Install nailers and cut studs

If your new wall runs parallel to the ceiling joists, cut pieces of 2x material as cross braces to fit tightly between the ceiling joists and install them every 2 feet or so. Measure for your studs and cut them to length. If the wall runs perpendicular to the ceiling joists, simply fasten the wall's top plate with two 16-penny nails at every joist.

Assemble the wall

Working on a flat surface, lay the studs on edge between the top and bottom plates. It helps to have something solid, such as a wall, to hold the framing against while you assemble and nail the wall. For speed, nail one plate at a time to the studs. Drive two 16-penny nails through the plate and into the ends of each stud. Because hammer blows tend to knock studs out of alignment, continually double-check your work while nailing. Keep the edges of the studs flush with the plate edges. If any of the studs are twisted or bowed, replace them.

Raise the frame

Framework can be cumbersome, so have a helper on hand. Position the bottom plate about where it needs to go and tip the wall into position. If the wall fits so tightly against the ceiling that you have to hammer it into place, protect the framing with a scrap of 2x4 as you pound. Tap both ends of the frame until it is roughly plumb in both directions. Instructions for Framing walls in place.

Snug the frame with shims

If the wall is a bit short in places, drive shims between the bottom plate and the floor or between the top plate and the ceiling joists. Have your helper steady the framework while you drive the pieces in place. Drive shims in from both sides, thin edge to thin edge, to keep the plate from tilting.

Fasten the frame to wall and floor

Once the frame is snug, recheck that the wall is plumb in both directions. Check both ends of the wall and every other stud. Fasten the top plate to the ceiling by driving in a 16-penny nail through the plate and into each joist. Fasten the bottom plate to the floor. Use 16-penny nails if the floor is wood; use masonry nails or a power hammer if the floor is concrete.

Tip.....When you finish your concrete basement, be sure to use the right kind of lumber for the plates. The sole plate (the bottom 2X4 that sits on the floor) should be treated lumber. That way, it won´t be affected by any moisture that could leech up through the concrete floor. The rest of the wall (the upright 2X4´s and the top plate) are standard lumber.

This page "How to Frame Basement Walls" is part of the website. More detailed information on how to finish a basement can be found at

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