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"
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 2x4 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
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.