If you are planning on dividing a large room into two smaller rooms then you will of course be looking at installing a stud wall. The question you are likely to be asking yourself is whether you can handle the job yourself, or whether you need to employ a professional. The answer to that question depends on whether you have the DIY skills to see the project through to a satisfactory conclusion. Hopefully this guide will give you a clearer understanding in what is involved and will assist you in gauging whether it is within your capabilities.
Before you start it is important to locate where all the pipes and cables are in the room which you intend to split. Doing so will ensure that you don’t cause any damage whilst you work and also protect yourself from any accidents. The best way to do this is to borrow or purchase a wall scanner, with suitable options available for around the £40 mark.
A ceiling plate is simply a length of timber that is nailed to the roof of the room and which acts as the base from which to construct your stud wall. Fitting a stud wall is always easiest if it will run at right angles to the existing joists, as the ceiling plate can be nailed directly to them. The wall scanner should again help you locate these joists. If the joists run parallel with your planned stud wall then consider moving your planned location slightly in order to position it right below one of them and make the installation simpler. If this isn’t a possibility then instead consider lifting the floorboards in the room above and inserting some additional joists (noggins) to nail to.
The next step is to fit a sole plate, which should be made from the same timber that you used for your ceiling plate. Remember to leave an appropriate gap for the doorway. Be sure to use a plump line so that you get the sole plate and ceiling plate directly opposite each other; resulting in a straight wall. Fix the sole plate into wooden joists using 100mm nails at every opportunity. Where the floor is solid you should instead use 90mm screws and leave a space of about 500mm between each one.
Now you have the frame in place it is time to insert your studs, or vertical central timbers, into the wall. These should be positioned along the length of the wall at equal intervals, dependant on the size of the plasterboard that you intend to use. It is likely that you will need to trim some plasterboard where the wall length doesn’t divide equally by the plasterboard width and to account for the door space. The studs can be attached to the ceiling and sole plate using nails, which should be hammered in at an angle of 45 degrees. Hammering a temporary block into the ceiling or sole plates behind the studs will ensure that they don’t move whilst you fix it in place. Hammer in 2 x 100mm nails, before removing the block and inserting a third nail on the other side of the stud for additional strength.
When positioning the studs that will be used for the doorway, remember to factor in the width of the doorframe that you intend to fit. It is also wise to add an additional 3mm on, which will allow you some room to manoeuvre when it comes to hanging the door. When you are choosing your doorframe, or casing, make sure that it is equally as wide as the timber you are using for the stud wall, plus the plaster board that will be attached to each side. Once you have your two studs in place for the doorway, you can then add a noggin along the top, which is commonly referred to as the door head. The door head can then be supported with a small vertical stud attached to the ceiling plate. Again, remember to factor in the width of the door casing.
If you have constructed your stud wall frame with the intention of then fitting it afterwards, the installation process isn’t too difficult. The frame can be simply fastened to the outer room wall along the length of the end studs. However, if you are fastening to an existing stud wall at a right angle, then the task may be a little harder due to the fact there could be less places to fix to. Ideally you will be able to line up the end stud of your frame with a stud in the existing wall, providing plenty of fixing positions. If this is not possible then you will have to make do with fixing the two walls together at the ceiling plate and sole plate and where any studs are positioned opposite noggins. Using a wall scanner during this step of the process will help you to easily locate studs and noggins.
Now that you have the frame or studs in place, it is time to increase the strength of the wall by adding some horizontal noggins between studs. These will usually be positioned halfway between floor and ceiling. Offset the noggins by about 80mm to allow yourself some room to hammer each one into position. Alternatively you can line them up with each other and insert nails at an angle of 45 degrees.
If you are planning to hang anything to the wall, such as a sink or perhaps some shelves, then insert some extra noggins at the appropriate height to fasten to. Now is the right time to work out where any plumbing pipes or electric wires will need to intersect the stud wall and cut out any required notches.
Almost there! Now you just have to fit the plasterboard to your frame to complete the stud wall. When it comes to cutting your plasterboard you should look to make it 20mm shorter than the height of the room. Position the plasterboard against the wall and use wooden wedges to lift the top edge against the ceiling. Use galvanised nails to fasten the plasterboard to the studs around the edges and also the stud running through the middle. Fastening to the sole and ceiling plates is also a good idea, although not a necessity.
Position the nails about 150mm apart and be sure to get one in each corner of the plasterboards. Use your hobby knife to cut the plasterboard and be as precise as you possibly can, including when cutting out areas for the doorway. Boards that fit neatly together will result in a better finish as it is much easier to conceal joints when it comes to plastering over. Time to get the trowel out!