Finishing a bedroom or a living area in your basement costs less than constructing that same area would above grade, and there is an added bonus of the concrete walls providing a high R-value insulation effect. Framing the walls in your basement is slightly different from framing above-grade walls because poured concrete floors often have slight variations in grade. With a basic understanding of building practices and the correct tools, you can frame a wall in your basement.
Things You'll Need
- Two-by-four dimensional lumber
- Two-by-four treated lumber
- Hammer drill
- Tapcon concrete screws
- Concrete drill bit
- Framing nail gun (or hammer and nails)
- Circular saw (or miter saw)
- Laser level (or plumb bob)
- Protective eyewear
Address all moisture and leaking issues first. Once the wall is finished, it becomes difficult to repair water problems.
Design the wall layout so the joists in the ceiling line up as closely as possible with your new wall studs. In some cases, there will already be support beams in these areas, installed during the original home construction.
Measure and pop chalk lines on the floor where the walls will lie. Cut and install two-by-four treated lumber for the floor plates (also known as sill plates). Any time wood comes into contact with concrete, use treated lumber to reduce the risk of moisture damage. Bolt the bottom plates into place by predrilling through the wood and concrete with a concrete drill bit and hammer drill. Then install 2 3/4-inch concrete screws every 12 inches.
Install the ceiling plates directly above the floor plates. This time you can use regular two-by-four lumber. Use framing nails to attach the plates to the underside of the ground floor joists. A laser level is handy at this point to determine the exact spot to install your ceiling plates, but a simple plumb bob will suffice: Hold the top end of a string with the plumb bob nearly touching the edge of the floor plate below as a reference.
Set your wall studs 16 inches on center, using the studs in the floor joists as a guide, if possible. The reason for lining up the studs is to provide easy access for future plumbing, venting and wiring to pass through the stud space from one floor to the next with a minimum of cutting and drilling.
Measure each stud before you cut it. This is the biggest difference between framing an above-grade wall and a basement wall. Since the concrete floor will likely have slight variations in level, you must measure and cut each stud individually. Use a framing nail gun or a hammer and nails to attach the top and bottom of the studs to the ceiling plates and the floor plates. Insert nails at a 45-degree angle through the stud and into the floor or ceiling plate. This is known as "toe-nailing." You should use three nails at every point you attach the stud, two from one side and one from the other.
Maintain a minimum of a 1/2 inch between your new framed walls and the concrete walls in the basement. Because there is always a chance of moisture forming on the inside of the concrete, the wood must stay a safe distance away. In addition, with the studs connected to both the floor plate and the ceiling plate, there is no need to attach them to the concrete wall.
Tips & Warnings
- Wear the proper protective eyewear when using power saws. In addition, follow the manufacturer's safety instructions when operating power equipment.
- Existing beams or joists in your basement cannot be removed, moved, cut or drilled through without the approval of an engineer and an inspection by your local authorities.
- The Family Handyman: How to Finish a Basement, Framing and Insulating
- Graphic Guide to Frame Construction, Third Edition, Rob Thallon
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Stockbyte/Getty Images
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