How to Repair Walls

No matter where you go in your home, you're surrounded by walls. It's hardly surprising, then, that walls receive a lot of attention from do-it-yourselfers. This fact shows up on the shelves at home-repair stores, which offer a wide array of products that can make wall jobs much easier than you might think.

The following article will tell you everything you need to know about repairing walls. Among the topics we'll cover are framing a partition, installing paneling, installing and repairing molding, installing and repairing drywall, repairing cracked plaster, and installing and repairing ceramic wall tile. We'll start at square one, with framing a partition.

How to Frame a Partition
Converting a basement or attached garage into more usable living space requires building a partition wall. Framing a wall is a task better suited for experienced do-it-yourselfers. The components of a partition wall include the top plate; the sole, or floor, plate; and the wall studs. The studs are usually on 16-inch centers, which means that the distance from the center of one stud to the center of the next measures 16 inches. All framing lumber for a project is of the same size, usually 2 X 4s.

The framing described here is for a nonload-bearing partition wall. Because it isn't designed to support the ceiling or the floor above, you need not worry about the roof caving in. Just make the finished wall look as attractive as possible. Remember that minor cosmetic faults in the framing will be covered by drywall or paneling.

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Here are the various components of a partition wall.

In planning a wall, consider all the uses of the room and what furniture or equipment will go into it. Think about the best place for a door. To get an idea of how a new wall will affect existing space, put tape or 2 X 4s on the floor to mark the spot for the proposed new wall. Shift these around until you're satisfied with your plan. To frame a partition:

Step 1: Cut the top plate and sole plate for the wall. Use long lengths of lumber (10-, 12-, or 16-foot lengths) to make the plates all one piece, if possible. Remember that the sole plate doesn't run through a doorway. Mark the top and sole plates for stud locations. The studs may be 16 (recommended) or 24 inches on center.

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Lay the top and sole plates side by side to mark them for stud locations.

Step 2: Snap a chalk line on the floor where the sole plate is to go to guide you as you install it. Nail the sole plate in position.

Step 3: With the sole plate in place, use a long, straight 2 X 4 to position the top plate directly above the sole plate. Place the straightedge against the 2 X 4, and use a level to make it vertically level, or plumb.

Step 4: Install the top plate. If the wall runs across the joists in the ceiling above, nail the top plate to each joist. If the wall runs parallel to the joists and cannot be positioned so that the top plate can be nailed to a joist, install bridging of 2 X 4 between the joists to provide solid nailing for the top plate. Space the bridging pieces on 16-inch centers and nail them to the joists with two nails through each end of each bridging piece.

Step 5: Assemble the studs and top plate on the floor as a unit, which will be raised as an assembly. This allows you to nail through the top plate and straight into the top of each stud. If the studs must vary in length, however, install the top plate, cut each stud to fit, and then toenail each stud in place. Toenailing means driving 16d nails into the side of the stud at about a 45-degree angle so that the nails penetrate the plate. Drive two nails into each stud.

Step 6: Toenail the studs to the sole plate. Openings for doors in the framing must be about 3 inches wider and 1 1/2 inches higher than the actual size of the door. Nail extra 2 X 4s on both sides of the door opening, and nail a header at the top. Then place a short cripple stud between the header and the top plate and nail it in place.

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Toenailing means driving a nail into the side of a stud at about a 45-degree angle.

Step 7: Nail 2 X 4s horizontally between studs at the midpoint of the wall. This blocking may be staggered so the pieces can be end-nailed.

Step 8: Cover the stud partition with paneling or drywall.

The particulars of installing paneling are covered in the next section.

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