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 2x4plates 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
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.
Category Construction Glossary
Laying Out and Framing Walls