How to Build a Small Closet

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Building a small closet is a straightforward project involving basic carpentry skills and drywall installation. The simplest closet designs include two walls forming a right angle to enclose the corner of a room. Another option is building it with one wall set at a 45-degree angle to the room’s walls, or building it with three right-angle walls for a box that projects from any single room wall. When designing your own closet, lay out pieces of butcher paper on the floor, and experiment with different sizes and configurations to find the ideal plan to suit your needs.

Things You'll Need

  • Basic carpentry tools
  • Framing square
  • Stud finder
  • 4-foot level
  • 2 x 4 lumber
  • 16d common nails or 3 1/2 inch screws
  • 8d common nails or 2 1/2 inch screws
  • 1/2 inch drywall
  • 1 1/4 inch drywall screws
  • Drywall joint compound and tape
  • Drywall installation and finishing tools
  • Door, door hardware and trim (as needed)
  • Wall finishing and painting supplies, as needed

How to Build a Simple Closet

  • Mark the locations of the closet walls onto the floor, using a pencil and straightedge or by snapping chalk lines. Use a framing square to make sure all corners are square. Provide at least 30 inches of depth overall (accounting for the drywall, too) for any clothes-hanging space.

  • Find and mark the existing wall studs and ceiling joists in the closet area, using a stud finder or a small finish nail and hammer. Note: It’s best to anchor the closet’s wall studs into the existing wall studs; if feasible, adjust the floor layout to coincide with the wall studs. However, you can anchor the walls to the floor and ceiling alone, provided the tops of the walls are fastened to ceiling joists.

  • Extend the layout lines from the floor up the walls and onto the ceiling, using a 4-foot level and pencil. Cut 2 x 4 plates for the top and bottom of each wall, following the layout lines. Fasten the plates to the floor and ceiling with 16d common nails or 3 1/2 inch screws.

  • Mark the wall-stud layout onto the plates. If you will use a standard pre-hung door for the closet, be sure to have the door on hand to guide the layout. Cut each wall stud to fit between the plates and install it with 8d common nails or 2 1/2 inch screws.

  • Cover the walls with 1/2 inch drywall. Tip: If you fit the drywall panels carefully along the room’s ceiling and walls, you can finish those joints with caulk instead of drywall tape and joint compound. Finish all other drywall joints with tape and compound, and use corner bead or wood trim to finish the outside corners of the closet.

  • Finish the closet walls as desired. Install the closet door and add trim, as appropriate. Add shelving, closet rods and other hardware as desired.

Tips & Warnings

  • Check for electrical wiring and plumbing lines in all walls, ceilings and floors in the project area before starting work.

References

  • “Build Your Own Custom Closet;” Gillet Cole and Jim Meyers; 2007
  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images
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