Simple Layout And Framing Of Walls

Framing walls is known in construction as rough carpentry. This has always seemed to me as a contradiction of terms. The framing holds the skin (drywall, sheathing, siding) and has the buildings life lines running through it (plumbing, electric, heating, A/C, telephone, and cable). Like the skeleton is to a body, as are framed walls to a house.

When laying out walls, care must be taken as to where they are placed. Finishes that will be applied must be considered in the mix. If a room is to finish 12′ x 12′ and the wall finish is 1/2″ drywall, then the rough (there’s that word again) dimension between walls must be 12’1″ x12’1″.

Wall stud placement must also be considered. They cannot be placed just anywhere. To understand how important this placement is, one must know the materials that are applied to the framing. Most common building materials come in 4 x 8 sheets. These sheets are usually applied with the 4′ horizontal and the 8′ vertical. The most common layout for wall framing is 16″ centers. When laid out and framed correctly, the edge of the drywall or sheathing will break on the center of the studs in 4′ increments.

The first step to laying out a wall is to find 2 straight 2x4s and cut them to the length of the wall. Your now ready for the stud layout. If your building perpendicular to an existing wall, lay the 2×4 plates next to each other and flush the ends. Hook your tape measure on one of the plates and make your first mark at 15 and 1/4″. This will be the leading edge of your first stud. This puts the center of the stud at 16″. Continue marking the rest of the wall studs in the same manner. The next one would be at 31 and 1/4″, then 47and1/4″, then 63 and 1/4″ and so on. This puts the center of the studs at 32″, 48″, and 64″. Most tape measures have 16″ centers highlighted in a color to make this easier. Once you have your stud locations marked, use a square (combination or speed) to draw a line across both plates. Put an “X” to the right side of this line. This indicates where the stud goes.

If there are doors, windows or wall intersections in the wall, these get laid out first. Sixteen inch centers are then laid out. Door and window openings can be moved so its stud or cripple stud is on the 16 o.c. layout. This saves or eliminates a stud.

Framing follows the same rules. Frame wall intersections first, then door and window openings. It can be tough to frame these items if the wall studs are in the way.

Wall layout is a simple process and once you do it a couple times you’ll see just how easy it is. It will become even more clear if you also install the drywall or sheathing also. It can be a nightmare if the layout is wrong and the edges of the material aren’t breaking on the center of the studs.

A certain amount of care and precision must be taken to avoid not having material breaking in the studs.