Most new wall frames need to be built on the floor and then lifted into place. This step-by-step guide shows you how to safely and efficiently set the wall.

January 26, 2019

Once a wall is framed, you'll want to put it in place as quickly as possible. Not only will you free up valuable floor space, but you'll know right away if any adjustments need to be made.

Before lifting the wall, double-check to make sure its height matches or is less than the distance from the floor to the underside of the plate that's attached to the ceiling. Use a plumb bob and a chalk line to locate the position of the bottom plate on the floor. Lift up the wall and slide it into position, then nail it in place. Whenever you need to attach a new wall to a plaster wall or ceiling, drill pilot holes and use 3-inch-long drywall screws instead of nails to avoid breaking the plaster. Read on to get a step-by-step guide to setting a framed wall in place.

Editor's Tip: It's a good idea to have a helper for this part of the job. Otherwise, if the wall is long, you could strain your back or rack the wall. Even if the wall is short enough to raise and move yourself, it's easier to mark for plumb and hold the wall in position for nailing if you have a helper.

What You Need

  • Ladder
  • Plumb bob
  • Chalk line
  • Bottom and top plates
  • Nails
  • Hammer
  • 2 1/2 inch drywall screws
  • Carpenter's level
  • Shims

Step 1: Mark the Spot

Dangle a plumb bob from the end and side of the ceiling plate to transfer the wall location to the floor. If you are working alone, hang the plumb bob from a nail in the plate. Repeat at the other end. This job is quicker with two people: One holds the string, the other marks the spot.

Step 2: Snap a Line

Snap a chalk line between the two marks you located with the plumb bob. This line indicates where the side of the bottom plate will go.

Step 3: Position and Lift Wall

Position the wall so the bottom plate is about a foot away from the chalk line. Lift the wall by the top plate and tip it up until it is vertical. Slide it into position under the ceiling plate.

Step 4: Anchor the Wall

Anchor the wall by nailing up through the top plate into the ceiling plate. Make sure the edges of the two plates are flush. To protect a plaster ceiling, install the plate with 2-1/2-inch drywall screws. Check the wall for plumb with a carpenter's level, then nail the bottom plate to the floor.

Step 5: Set Shims

If there is a little space between the top plate and the ceiling plate, slip a pair of shims between the two before nailing. Drive the nails through the shims to keep them from slipping out.

More Framing Tips and Tricks

How to Frame a Corner

If your new wall turns a corner, frame it with four studs or with three studs and blocking as shown here. This creates a sturdy corner that provides a 1-inch-wide nailing surface for inside-corner drywall as well as solid nailing for drywall on the outside corner.

How to Anchor Walls to Concrete Floors

Setting up a wall on a concrete floor presents a bigger challenge than merely nailing into a wood subfloor. Fortunately, there are plenty of solutions.

  • If the floor is less than four years old, drive specially hardened masonry nails through the bottom plate into the concrete. One-half inch of penetration prevents shifting, so drive 2-inch nails through lumber that measures 1-1/2 inches thick.
  • A powder-actuated tool uses an explosive charge to drive fasteners. Exercise extreme care and follow all the manufacturer's instructions.
  • Specialty masonry bits and screws designed for concrete fastening (Tapcon is one manufacturer) are suited for many applications.
  • Drill a hole into the concrete, then you can tap in a lead or plastic plug that accepts a threaded fastener.
  • Construction adhesive reduces the number of mechanical fasteners required, but don't rely on the adhesive alone.

Masonry nails work well to anchor the plate to a slab if the concrete is not too old. Be sure to wear safety goggles when hammering nails into concrete because pieces of concrete will fly.

Buying and Using Adhesive

Construction adhesive adds holding power when teamed with mechanical fasteners. Cut the nozzle to produce a 1/2-inch bead, then lay down a generous amount. A tube that's more than a year old starts to lose strength, so buy fresh adhesive.


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