How to Frame a Curved Wall

Add architectural interest to your home with a curved wall. Here's how to frame one.

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A curved wall can be a simple sweeping arc or an undulating wave that moves back and forth. Either way, a curved wall will add interest and drama to any room.

When building one yourself, there are a few things to keep in mind. A flexible metal track speeds and simplifies the construction of the wall whether you utilize metal or wood studs. The track shown is also available in a model that accommodates 2x6 studs. Making your own curved track from standard channel is a bit tedious but not especially difficult. Making plates from solid wood or laminated plywood is another option, but it can consume significant amounts of both materials and time. One other key design consideration is the radius of the curve. The radius you choose determines the spacing of the studs. Spacing the studs closely can give a smoother look to your finished wall.

Before you begin framing, make sure you know how to measure, use a plumb bob, and drive fasteners. Expect to spend about 20 minutes per linear foot of wall on this project. 

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What You Need

  • Permanent marker
  • Chalk line
  • Plumb bob with nylon line
  • Strip of scrap hardboard
  • Drill/driver
  • Drill bits
  • Metal snips
  • Masking tape
  • Locking-grip pliers
  • Flexible track for the top and bottom of the wall
  • Studs
  • Fasteners

Step 1: Draw the Curve

Draw the curve on the floor with a permanent marker. To get a smooth curve, make a giant compass from a strip of hardboard or plywood. Tap a nail through the hardboard into the floor for the pivot point. Drill a hole at the other end at the desired radius for the curve; put the marker tip through the hole and draw.

Step 2: Screw the Track

Bend the track to shape, and hold the curve while you drive screws through the tabs into the metal strip. For best results, use No. 8X1/2-inch self-drilling screws. Driving a screw through every tab on both sides gives the strongest results.

Run masking tape along the outside (convex) edge of the track to hold the curve while you drive screws into the inside (concave) edge. When you're ready to drive screws into the outside edge, you can pull the tape off or leave it in place and drill through it.

Step 3: Shape Top Track

After you've completed the first track, turn it over to use as a template to shape the top track. The top track is a mirror image of the bottom. Attach the second track to the first with locking-grip pliers at one end, shape the curve, then secure the other end with another pair of locking-grip pliers. Drive the screws.

Step 4: Position Ceiling Track

Attach the bottom track to the floor, and use a plumb bob to position the ceiling track. Temporarily place a few studs into the tracks to support the upper track. Check the alignment of the tracks at both ends and at the middle.

Step 5: Attach Studs

Twist the studs into the tracks, and plumb them before driving screws through the track to secure them. You can use either wood or metal studs. For the smoothest wall surface, space the studs closely together, never exceeding the spacing recommended.

How to Build an Archway

Flexible track is an easy solution to the construction of archways. Simply bend mirror-image curves and join the tracks with short lengths of wood or metal studs.

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How to Make Your Own Flexible Track

To make your own flexible track, start with a length of steel runner. Cut through one flange and the web at 2-inch intervals along the portion that will be curved. Inside the runner, lay a steel strap that's at least 1 inch wide and with a thickness of at least 18 mils (25 gauge). Screw the flanges to the strip to set the curve. To make an S-shape curve, switch the cuts to the other flange of the runner.

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