How to Frame a Wet Wall

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Framing a wet wall, found in areas such as kitchens, bathrooms and laundry rooms, follows the same techniques for framing interior, non-load-bearing walls. Wet walls get their name from the presence of plumbing lines housed behind the completed walls. One major difference in framing wet walls is in the size of lumber used. Whereas most interior walls use 2-by-4 wall studs, 2-by-6s are used for wet-wall construction.

Why 2-by-6 Studs?

  • These larger studs are used in areas such as roofs, where sturdier construction is desired. Carpenters use 2-by-6 studs in wet walls to provide support for plumbing lines as well as faucet and shower openings. To accommodate plumbing openings such as drain and vent lines, studs may need to be placed farther apart, necessitating the need for strength. Some designs may also call for horizontal pipes to run through the studs and provide structural support for the plumbing.

Frame Composition

  • Basic wall-frame construction consists of vertical wall studs, spaced at 16-inch intervals, along with a top plate and a sole, or bottom, plate made of the same size wood studs. Vertical studs are connected to the top and sole plates by 10D nails hammered in at an angle. Wall frames do not have to be made of high-grade lumber; however, avoid using studs that are warped, twisted or knotted.

Measurements and Design

  • Before constructing the wet-wall frame, carpenters should take accurate measurements of the installation area and cut the studs to the proper length. Because wet walls accommodate pipes and other plumbing fixtures, the size of these elements should also be accurately measured to allow for properly sized openings. Plumbing openings are constructed in the same manner as those for windows, with additional plates placed for horizontal bracing. Once all measurements are made, the design should be sketched via CAD software and printed, or the same work may be done by hand. The sketched design will aid in the purchase of the proper amount of wooden studs.

Assembly

  • Carpenters have two available methods for assembling wall frames. The first calls for nailing the top plate into place first by finding the ceiling joists through a stud locator. Nail the top plate into place by using two 3½-inch nails at each joist, and mark the locations with chalk where each vertical stud will be placed. The sole plate is installed next by using a plumb bob to determine the exact location on the floor. The sole plate is nailed into position using the same size nails at 16-inch intervals and should also have chalk markings for the vertical studs. After the plates are in place, the studs can be nailed into place.

    The second method involves assembling the top plate and the vertical studs on the floor, then hoisting the unit into place. In this method, vertical studs are secured to the sole plate through “toe nailing,” which involves drilling small holes at the locations where the studs will be nailed to the floor. Studs are then nailed into place.

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