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How to Build Studwork Walls

The majority of modern first floor internal walls are made up of a timber frame (studwork) with plasterboard nailed on top. Its quick to construct, lightweight and strong. The semi-hollow nature of studwork construction also means that pipes and wires can be run within the wall to feed water and electricity where needed.

Studwork is not just the preserve of the new build project. It can be used to divide up a large space, to box in pipes or, as in the picture above, create headboards.

A carpenter will charge you around 14/m² to supply and fit materials for studwork walls. If youve got lots of rooms to create or have fiddly areas to fill then your project could get very expensive. But with a few basic tools and a couple of days at your disposal there is nothing to stop you doing the job yourself.

Building Regulations insist that there is an element of sound resistance between walls (40 decibels). For this you'll need to add acoustic insulation (mineral wool or acoustic foam) inside the studwork. Another solution is to fix two layers of plasterboard to each side of the studwork. Dont forget to stagger the positions of sockets and switches on dividing walls or you'll hear an annoying click every time they are used in the adjacent room.

Tools needed:

Materials needed:

  • Saw
  • Hammer
  • Nail gun (optional)
  • Spirit level
  • Pencil
  • Saw horse or workmate
  • Square
  • A willing assistant with long arms
  • Large-bladed filler knife
  • Plasterboard
  • Lengths of 100mm x 50mm sawn (un-planed) timber
  • Door lining
  • 100mm wire nails
  • Plasterboard nails
  • Jointing tape
  • Sharp knife
  • Jointing compound
  • Plaster (optional)

Step-by-step Guide:

1. Check your plans for the correct positions and measurements before you start. Dont be tempted to scale from the plans. Its quicker and easier to talk through any anomalies with the person who drew the plans. If you are dividing an existing room, think about how the new space will work.Will it be big enough? Is there natural daylight? What about door positions?

2. The first piece of wood to go into a stud wall is the floor plate(s). A bent piece of wood will throw the whole job out so run your eye down it to check it is straight.

3. Lay the floor plate down and move it out until it matches the rooms internal measurement given on the plans. Some plans give measurements to the wood of the studwork, others to the finished plasterboard.

4. Cut the floor plate to the correct length.

5. Check that the floor plate is correctly positioned at both ends and secure it into the floor. Aim to fix the floor plate every 900mm and be careful to avoid pipe runs and wires. Here, were using a nail gun. Hire one if you have a lot of studwork to put up. Floor plates going into solid ground floors will need to be secured with screws and rawl plugs.

6. Measure and cut the next floor plate to form the room and then slide it into position. Check it is square to the first floor plate, then fix in place.

7. Once you have fixed all the floor plates and have the basic outline of your room, use the top rail of your door lining to mark out the opening. Some door lining sets accommodate two different door sizes. Mark out the correct size and leave room either side for architrave.

8. Measure off and cut the timber that will fix to the ceiling (head plate). Once cut get someone to help hold the head plate while you position it using another length of timber and a spirit level. Place the length of timber on the inside edge of the floor plate and the inside edge of the head plate.When the vertical piece of timber is going straight up, make a pencil mark next to the head plate.

9. Fix one end of the head plate in place. Repeat step 8 with the other end of the head plate and fix that in place too. Fix any other head plates in the same way. Here, we are fixing the head plate to new timber trusses so it is very easy to see where to nail. If you are working with a ready-plastered ceiling in a ground floor room, you'll need to lift a floorboard or two upstairs to locate ceiling joists. First floor rooms will need a trip up to the loft to find the joists. Once they are located it is a simple job of pushing a thin-bladed screwdriver through the plaster next to the joists so you can see the run from the room you are in.

10. Measure up for the wall studs at each corner of the room. Cut and then fix them in place between the floor plate and head plate.

11. Measure from the inside of the floor plate to the inside of the head plate next to the door aperture you marked in step 7. Add 2mm to this measurement to ensure a tight fit and cut and fix a length of timber either side of the opening.

12. Now for the cutting and fixing of the intermediate studs. You can measure and add 2mm before cutting or place the bottom of the timber on the floor plate and mark off the required height on the head plate. Once cut, fix the intermediate studs with 100mm nails. If you are using 9.5mm plasterboard, the centres between studs need to be 400mm; 12.5mm plasterboard needs 600mm centres.

13. Cut and nail in place noggings between the intermediate studs. Noggings stiffen up the structure and, if set at 1,200mm (to centre of nogging) from the floor, give a 12,00mm x 2,400mm sheet of plasterboard reinforcement at its join with the sheet above.

14. Cut out and remove the door aperture from the floor plate.

15. Before you fix the plasterboard to the studwork, run any pipes or wires through holes made in the intermediate stud and/or noggings. It is good practice to fix the ceiling plasterboard before you do the walls.

16. Working outwards from any doorway, offer up the first sheet of plasterboard (long side down) to the studwork and fix it in place with plasterboard nails at 150mm centres. Cut to fit with a sharp knife or saw, but beware: slivers below 60mm get crumbly.

17. With one side of plasterboard up, fix sound insulation and attach the closing side of plasterboard.

18. Tape up joins and then apply jointing compound on top with a large-bladed filling knife. Alternatively, finish with a coat of plaster.

5 Comments

Hi Ray,

To the best of our knowledge, if you are talking about the floor structure (as opposed to the floor covering) then you would lay the floor structure first and then the stud walls on top.

Hopefully this picture (even though it's using a beam and block floor) shows you what I mean.

Kind regards, Sam Joy (Online Editor)

Please help. We have fitted new ceiling joists but can we find how to level them before we put down the new flooring. Can you help.
Does one get a better, firmer, stronger stud wall by nailing or screwing the structure together ?
Hi, I have internal block walls to first floor height with joists all in place, do I lay flooring, then stud walls on top, or stud walls straight onto joists?? many thanks Ray
Hiya, I have reposted your question in the discussion forum as you are more likely to receive a response to your question there. The link is http://www.homebuilding.co.uk/forum/diy-advice/levelling-ceiling-joists Kind regards, Sam Joy (Online Editor)