Knowing how to frame walls with doorways is a skill that can open up a wealth of options for the DIYer. In a world where open concept rules and walls are shunned, focus on how to construct a proper wall isn’t at the top of the list for most home improvement gurus. Yet, this knowledge can be used to create new storage spaces, to define areas, or to change a floor plan’s layout.
How To Frame Walls With Doorways…
Suppose that you need a closet or you would like to turn one large attic into two separate rooms as you see in my theater room reveal above. (see the finished room here). If you know how to frame walls with doorways, then this wish can be easily realized.
Now, you may think that building a wall is a huge undertaking and you may feel intimidated by such a large project. However, it really isn’t difficult. I learned how to frame a wall when I was 14 years old. It was one of my first home improvement skills. So, I can tell you that it is not as scary as it may at first seem. Let’s look at the process step-by-step.
How To Frame Walls With Doorways – My Way…
Before we get started, first let me say that each framer has their own preferences and opinions on the best methods for framing walls. In all of my years, I have heard many. None of them were wrong, just different.
For example, some people like to use steel studs to build walls, as the Family Handyman does. The most important thing is to just make sure that you are following the code for your area and that you are following the door manufacturers requirements. Now, let’s identify the parts of a wall.
- The top and bottom of the wall frame are called plates – to be exact, the top plate and the bottom plate.
- The 2x4s that run vertically in a wall are called studs.
- In a wall with a door or a doorway, there are a few specialty studs. There are the king studs, which sit at the edge of the door opening. They run all the way from the bottom plate to the top plate.
- Next to these are the jack studs (also called trimmer studs). These are located inside the door opening, next to the king studs and they support the header and transfer weight to the floor.
The header is what makes a door opening possible. The size and style of a header will depend on the location of the wall, size of the opening, and the weight that the opening needs to support. The short 2x4s above the header are called the cripple studs. They provide stability to an opening when the header doesn’t go all the way to the top plate.
To begin framing a wall, the first thing that you need to do is to mark up the top plate and the bottom plate.
- To do this, you just lay the 2x4s out on the floor with the ends aligned flush to each other.
- The next thing that I do is to determine where my door or doorway will be located. (To get my door opening width, I take the door size and add 5″ to it. A common door width is 32″. In this scenario, the opening would be 37″. This gives me the width of the door, plus 1.5″ on each side for a jack stud, plus 3/4″ on each side for the door jamb. The extra 1/2″ left over will allow room to shim on each side).
- I mark the total 37″ opening in the location where I want it first. This mark will be the edge of my King studs.
- Next, I start at one end of the plates and start measuring out 16″ increments. Most measuring tapes have 16″ increments displayed for you (typically they will be red or in bold). So, this makes it easy to quickly lay out the marks. We do this because walls are built with studs placed at 16″ on center. That just means that a stud is centered on each of these marks. This is important because most in-wall inserts are made to fit between those 16″, like insulation or medicine cabinets.
Note – If one of the 16″ marks happens to fall in the same location as a king stud, (as in my diagram above), it will serve both purposes. Otherwise, I place each and every stud regardless of how close it is to the kings’ stud marks that I made previously.
In the area where the door opening is, the marks are only placed on the top plate. These will be the cripple studs. You can see that the blue cripple stud line (above) is very close to the king stud. However, the blue line is the location for the 16″ OC, so I do not alter its position.
The next thing that I do is to turn those marks into the full markup. To make the markup, I place a 1.5″ wide ruler on the center of each line and trace the edges. Then, place an x in the center of each box. You really don’t have to do this, but it is a common method for identifying the stud locations.
How To Frame Walls With Doorways – Load Bearing…
However, if the opening is spanning a large area, or if a heavy door or a large door is being installed, I always go with a load bearing wall even when it is not structural. The way that a load bearing header is built requires a few more steps but is still not difficult.
For most headers in an add-on wall, you can get away with using 2x5s. However, you should read the instructions that come with the door. It will tell you what type of header to use.
To build a header, you will need two 2x5s cut to the width of the opening. Between the 2x5s you will need to sandwich a section of 1/2″ plywood. Cut the plywood to the same length and width as the 2x5s and glue all three pieces together. Place a few screws or nails along the length to hold it in place.
Here is a good example of headers. The door opening to the left will hold double doors. The one in the center will be a walkthrough. You can also see the headers above the windows and the header on the back wall where more doors will be located. FYI – I remove the bottom plate section between the opening last. To do that I just use a reciprocating saw.
Here you can see how the headers look once finished with sheetrock, trim and installed doors.
The instructions that I have given you are for building and then lifting a wall into place. This is just the way that I like to do it; however, you can also build it in place if the space is tight.
To do that you just need to start by nailing the top plate into place, then use a plumb to line up the bottom plate. But, that is another post. 🙂 Questions and comments are always welcome!
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