Framed walls are the skeletal structure of the house, supporting the sheeting, the interior and exterior finish, housing the electrical and mechanical elements and providing barriers between rooms. Although the framing stage of construction is one of the quickest, basic guidelines are necessary in order to maintain the structural integrity of the entire house.
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Before you can frame the walls, the floor sheeting must be in place and you must know the future location of doors and windows. All necessary wall-framing tools should be on the job as well as a circular saw or a table saw to cut the studs. Since walls are framed on the floor and then lifted into position, at least one assistant is necessary and more are desirable.
In a standard home, the wall height is eight feet. You can purchase pre-cut wall studs that are 92 5/8 inches long. With the addition of a floor plate and a ceiling plate, the finished wall reaches eight feet. When determining your dimensions, keep in mind that a standard 2-by-4 really measures 1 ½-inch by 3 ½-inches. They are ½-inch smaller in both directions in order to allow for ½-inch wallboard materials.
The layout portion of wall framing is imperative to the finished wall. With your dimensions written down, you will transfer the layout to the floor and build your wall there. Build the headers or lintels that support the overhead structure of windows and doors first and then fit the remaining studs in the wall, setting them on 16-inch centers, wherever possible. Double the studs beside a door or a window.
Once you frame the wall on the floor, it's time to stand it up. Use a chalk line to mark the exact location on your floor where you want the wall. At this point, you will need assistance to lift and hold the wall in place. You need not level the first wall yet, just temporarily brace it. When you lift the adjacent wall, you will level both walls before fastening them together and screwing the plates to the joists beneath the floor.
Wall studs are vertical and the floor and ceiling plates will be horizontal. For a strong structure, use "toe-nailing" when screwing or nailing the studs to the plates. This involves inserting the screw or nail at a 45-degree angle to secure the stud to the plate.
Before framing a wall, find the location of the joists that run beneath the floor. These will also be on 16-inch centers and you should try to match your wall studs directly above the joists, when possible to increase the load-bearing ability of the walls.
All construction has an element of danger and wall framing is no different. Everyone on the job must be familiar with the power tools, screw guns and nail guns and they must observe safety measures when climbing on framed walls in order to secure them to adjacent walls. Protective eyewear is necessary when operating power saws.