Building a Stud Partition

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The easiest form of partition to build is the wood frame variety — it is ideal for dividing one bedroom into two, making an extra powder room or bathroom, or splitting a dining area from a kitchen or living room. The wood frame is simply nailed together and faced with drywall on each side; it is easily adapted for doorways, pass through or windows. Being essentially hollow, it can also be used to conceal electrical wiring and water pipes.

The framework comprises a number of uprights called “studs” fitted between lengths of wood spanning the width of the ceiling and floor. These are called the “head plate” and “sole plate” respectively. Short horizontal lengths of wood are fixed between the uprights to brace them and support the cladding. In most cases 2 x 3in rough sawn softwood is ideal for the studs and bracing, with 11/2 x 3in for the head and sole plates. If the partition is to carry a lot of weight such as shelves or cupboards, a larger size should be used, say 2 x 4in.

Planning the partition

Deciding where to put the partition is the first thing to do so that you end up with two usable rooms. If possible arrange things so that each new room gets the benefit of a window, but do not be tempted to set the partition so that it divides a window in two. Not only does this look dreadful, but in some cases it is also illegal. If you cannot provide a window for each room, glaze the upper portion of the partition so that you can “borrow” some natural light from the room with the window. Similarly, if you cannot provide an opening window for each new room, you will be required to install a form of mechanical ventilation.

Important considerations are the layouts of floor and ceiling joists since the head and sole plates will be attached to these. Ideally, the partition should run at right angles to the joists so that its weight is spread across them. If this is not possible, it must be directly above a joist. With a solid floor, there is no problem.

If the head plate does not span the ceiling joists and does not come below a single joist because the ceiling joists do not line up with the floor joists, you should nail lengths of 2in sq blocking between the ceiling joists and attach the head plate to these.

Before you begin work, check under the floor and above the ceiling for any cables or pipes that might be damaged by nails or screws. It is also a good idea to check with your local Building Code before carrying out any structural work.

Erecting the framework by cutting the head and sole plates to length; whenever possible buy wood long enough so that you can span the room with one piece. Nail the sole plate to the joists through the floorboards using 4in long common nails or fix it to a concrete floor with 4in long No.10 woodscrews and wall plugs or with masonry anchors or masonry nails. Screw the head plate to the ceiling joists.

Cut the studs for each end of the partition, leaving them a fraction over-length so that they will be a tight fit between the head and sole plates, and screw them to the wall. Use 4in long No.10 screw and wall plugs.

Then mark off the positions of the other studs along the sole plate, making sure their centers are 16in or no more than 24in apart. They should be positioned so that the edges of the cladding material will meet along their center lines (standard sheets of drywall are 4ft wide). If the partition is to have a door in it, the stud positions on each side of the opening must be adjusted to allow for the door width and the thickness of the lining.

Measure and cut each stud individually as there is no guarantee that head and sole plates will be parallel.

Set each stud in place, making sure it is vertical with a spirit level, and fix it by driving 3 or 4in common nails at an angle through the side of the stud into the head and sole plate (known as toe-nails).

Constructing a Blockwork Wall

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Although a wood-framed partition is easy to build, it does not provide the most effective sound insulation and it will need extra strengthening if it is to carry shelves or cabinets. In situations such as this, a partition built from lightweight concrete blocks is much more suitable. However, you cannot build such a partition on an upper floor, since even a reinforced concrete floor is unlikely to be strong enough to carry the load of a concrete block partition. A concrete first floor makes an ideal foundation and even a suspended wood first floor will do if a full-width wood sole plate is put down first, but check with your local Code.

Before starting work, the floor, walls and ceiling should be stripped of all coverings and any coving and base cut away with a chisel to clear the blocks. The easiest way to mark the position of the partition is

with a chalked plumbline, snapping it against the floor to leave two parallel chalk lines the width of the blocks. Continue these lines up the walls and across the ceiling making sure they are vertical.

For strength, it is best to tie the partition to adjacent walls by cutting recesses in them to accept the end blocks of alternate courses or similarly by using galvanized metal ties screwed to the walls and buried in the blockwork mortar joints. Nailing a guide batten to the wall against one of the chalk lines is also a good idea to help with the alignment.

Trowel a 6in wide layer of mortar (1 part masonry cement: 6 parts soft sand) across the floor to span the chalk lines on it, leveling it out to about 1/2 an inch thick. Then scribe a guide line through the mortar in line with the chalk marks on the end walls, using the point of your trowel and a long straight-edged plank.

There are many different types of concrete block to choose from, but the best types for building an internal partition are known as aerated blocks (A).

These are light in weight, so they are easy to handle — an important quality since they are twice the size of a normal brick. This fact also means that you can build a full-height partition relatively quickly. You can drill them, knock nails into them or, using a general-purpose saw, cut channels in them (B) to conceal electric cables and pipe work. Sound will not pass through them as easily as it would a woodframed partition, nor will heat.

Aerated blocks should be laid in the same manner as bricks in a “stretcher” bond pattern with mortar joints. Their normal size is 17 x 81/2 x 4in. For finishing, you can either plaster them directly or nail on battens and fix a gypsum board cladding to the battens.


Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Plasterboard is a sandwich of gypsum plaster held between two layers of thick paper. You can plaster lower it, paint or paper it to match other walls. It is ideal for cladding a timber framed partition, the panels being simply nailed in place.

Always handle pasterboard carefully; it is easily broken. If you intend plasteringit, fit the gray side outermost, but if you want to paint or paper over it leave the ivory colored side showing.

Fix all the full size panels to the framework first then the smaller pieces, completing one side at a time. If the partition does not span the rppm filly, work from the outer end towards the wall.

To cut plasterboard, use a sharp knife and steel straightedge; after cutting through one side, stand the board on edge and snap it back to break the plaster. Cut through the remaining paper layer. For right-angle cuts mark both sides of the panel and cut through from both sides. Trim full panels to measure about 1 in less than the floor-to-ceiling height; this will allow you to push them up tight against the ceiling with a “footlifter” before nailing.

Fix the board to the frame, using 11/4in galvanized plasterboard nails or screws, spacing them at 6in intervals and working outwards from the center of the panel. Keep the fixings at least 11/2in from the edge of the panel to prevent them from breaking the edge. Drive the nails or screws in so that their heads come just below the surface. This is enough to allow for a thin skim of filler.

To fill the joints, apply a layer of proprietary joint filler then press in a length of paper or fiberglass jointing tape. Apply more filler up to the level of the surrounding plasterboard, feathering the edges with a damp sponge. When dry, apply one or two thin layers of joint finish, again feathering the edges.

Bracing the Stud of a Stud Partition

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

With all the studs of your stud partition in place, now fit the bracing. If you intend cladding the partition with standard aft sheets of gypsum board, place the bracing in a row 4ft from the floor. If the partition is taller than 8ft, a second row of bracing should be fitted to support the upper edges of the drywall panels and the lower edges of the panels above them.

For strength, stagger the bracing above and below each other — this makes fitting easier, too — but if they are to support the edges of two sheets of drywall they must all be in line. In this case, the center line of each brace must coincide with the edges of the panels. Mark the brace positions on the studs with a pencil and level to make sure they are all horizontal.

Cut the bracing so that it is a close fit between the studs but not over-length, otherwise it will push the studs out of true.

Begin fitting the bracing at the wall end of the partition and work in towards the center. A block of wood nailed to the wall stud will support the end of the first brace while you nail through the second stud into the other end of the brace. Use two nails. Then toe-nail the inner end of the brace to the wall stud. If the bracing is to be lined up, repeat this procedure for each one; if it is to be staggered, simply drive nails through the studs into the ends of the brace.

The ends of the bracing (“header”) over a doorway must be fitted in 1 1/2in deep slots cut in the sides of the adjacent studs. Cut down the side of each slot with a back saw and remove the waste with a lin bevel-edged chisel, working in from each end, or use a double stud at the header ends to support it.

Having completed the framework, you can remove the section of sole plate from the threshold of the doorway. Simply saw through each end level with the studs on each side. Then clad the framework with gypsum board, trimming the panels round the doorway flush with the studs and header.

The door opening should be trimmed with lengths of 4 x in planed softwood that fit flush with the faces of the gypsum board panels on each side. Cut a length to fit snugly between the studs at the top and screw this to the header. Then screw two longer pieces to the studs on each side of the door opening.

Finally, cut pieces of molding to fit round the door opening, mitering their corners at 45°. Nail the molding to the edges of the trimming pieces with in finishing nails, driving their heads below the surface.

Dividing Spaces in Your Home

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Partitions can be used in most homes to make best use of available space, turning large or awkwardly- shaped rooms into more manageable accommodation.

The large, L-shaped room is common to many homes, yet it is not the most convenient of shapes to furnish or heat. By building a partition with an access door across one of the legs you can produce two smaller, rectangular rooms which are much cozier and more easily heated.

Long, narrow rooms also produce their own particular problems, such as giving the impression of being like tunnels or causing difficulties in positioning furniture. The tendency is to put everything around the walls, leaving a large bare area in the center of the room.

By building a partition that spans, say, only half of the room’s width, you can create two distinct areas (for living and dining perhaps) without completely losing the feeling of being in one large room.

Furniture can then be grouped more effectively into sitting arrangements and dining areas. You can achieve the same effect by building a waist-high partition across the room, but in this case there would be much more of an open-plan feel to the room. Such a partition would also provide some useful shelf space along the top, or for a tier of shelves above.

Obviously, if you are using a partition to make two rooms out of one, you will have to arrange access to the new room. The easiest way is to build a door in the partition.

However, this means that you must walk through one room to reach the other and that might not always be convenient, especially if the rooms are used as bedrooms. To overcome this problem you can either make a new doorway through one of the original walls of the room or build a second partition at right angles to the first to form a small lobby, from which both rooms can be entered separately and maintain a sense of privacy.

A bathroom formed by partitioning off part of a larger room. The confined space is visually enlarged by the overall tiling of the walls and bath platform, and light is admitted through a glass block wall.

An important point to consider when partitioning a room is the availability of daylight in both new rooms. You may find that the only suitable position for the partition means that one room has no window at all. In this situation, you can provide a fair degree of natural light by incorporating panes of glass (clear or frosted depending on the purpose of the room) along the top of the partition. You could even include a glass door.

Partitions can be very useful for creating storage. By building what is effectively a false wall across the end of a room, you can use the space between it and the original wall for inset shelving, cabinets and even walk-in closets. This can be very handy if there is a small room next to a large one, since by cutting an opening in the original dividing wall and arranging the internal divisions of the storage space partition at right angles to the first to form a small lobby, from which both rooms can be entered separately and maintain a sense of privacy.

An important point to consider when partitioning a room is the availability of daylight in both new rooms. You may find that the only suitable position for the partition means that one room has no window at all. In this situation, you can provide a fair degree of natural light by incorporating panes of glass (clear or frosted depending on the purpose of the room) along the top of the partition. You could even include a glass door.

Partitions can be very useful for creating storage. By building what is effectively a false wall across the end of a room, you can use the space between it and the original wall for inset shelving, cabinets and even walk-in closets. This can be very handy if there is a small room next to a large one, since by cutting an opening in the original dividing wall and arranging the internal divisions of the storage space carefully, you will provide a storage facility for both rooms.

Fixing new skirting

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

For a tight fit, you should only measure and cut a skirting board after fixing the adjacent one in position. What’s more, neatness dictates that the ends have to be cut in the right way.

External corners are always mitred. You can use either a deep mitre or box, or a circular saw which should be set to a 45° bevel, and drive light nails through the completed joint. Where walls meet at odd angles (eg, round bay windows) you’ll have to gauge each angle with a sliding bevel, and measure it with a protractor. Then re-set the bevel to half the angle, and mark the pieces accordingly.

On internal corners, however, a mitre will tend to separate and show a gap because, when you fix the second board against the wall, it will tend to move away slightly from the first board. The answer is to scribe the profile of the molding onto the second board — see opposite. Cut it out so that its end fits snugly into position over the first board. Then cut it to length at the other end. (Plain boards, of course; can just be butt-jointed.)

The fixing itself depends largely on what’s behind the old skirting. If it’s fairly recent, the plaster will probably run right down to the floor, the skirting being simply nailed on top of it. Nail the new piece on in the same way, using masonry nails long enough to pass through both layers of plaster and into the brickwork — say 63mm (2 1/2in).

For a hollow timber-framed stud partition, use ordinary oval or lost-head nails, making sure they pass through the cladding and into the timber sole plate (into the studs. too, in the case of wide skirtings). Ordinary nails will also do for solid walls of soft blocks.


Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

The idea of an architrave is to hide the join between a door or window frame or lining and the surrounding plaster

A loose architrave can be nailed back in place to the door frame, or even screwed to the surrounding masonry if you drill right through it with a masonry bit and insert wall- plugs to take the screws. But removal and fixing are both easier than for skirting, so replacement is usually the sensible alternative to major repairs. You just lever the existing architrave off, and nail the new one on.

On a brick or block wall, you usually nail through the molding’s inner edge and into the doorframe, lining or ‘wrought grounds’ with 25 mm (1 in) oval nails; lost-head nails or panel pins can also be used. But if necessary you can nail through the middle of the molding and into the wall itself, using cut nails for medium-hard blocks if you like, and masonry nails for bricks and hard blocks. If you find that there are rough (concealed) grounds between the plaster and the frame or lining, then nail into those. On a stud wall, nail into the studs.

At the bottom, the upright pieces butt against the floor and the ends of the skirting. At the_ top the corners are mitred. A good idea is to start by cutting off three pieces of molding which are manageable but still slightly too long. Then you can mark off the heights of the two upright ones (which may of course differ a bit, depending on whether the floor is flat or level), mitre their top ends and fix them loosely to the wall.

This makes it easy to mark off the exact length of the top piece. Mitre its ends, position it, and make any adjustments – by moving the uprights slightly, and even shaving the mitred ends with a sharp chisel or block plane if necessary. Then nail all three pieces finally in place, and pin the mitres from the top as for skirting boards.

When mitring, always make quite sure you’re cutting the right way round. That sounds silly, but you’ll find it’s all too easy to waste whole pieces by mistake

Failing that, a hacksaw should do the job.

In certain places — eg, the backs of alcoves — the skirting board is held in position by the two pieces at right angles to it. So, unless you remove at least one of those first, sawing the board out is your only option. A flooring saw may work. Otherwise drill a series of holes in line dOwn the face of the skirting, and use a chisel to chop out the waste between the holes so you can prise out the two ends of the board. Pipework and other obstacles sometimes force the same solution.

If a length of skirting refuses to come away completely, you may still be able to make sawing easier by levering enough of it out to push timber wedges behind it. In all cases, it’s best to saw at an angle of 45° across the thickness. If you’re just removing a section, cut the new piece to the same angle when you come to fix that in place.

Always use 45° cuts, rather than butt joins, if you have to make up a long piece from two shorter ones. They’ll be less conspicuous, especially if you site the join near an out-of- the-way corner.

Skirting boards

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

Skirting boards are generally the widest and longest moldings around the house. They’re fixed, of course, along the bottom of walls, where they prevent damage to wall coverings and make a neat join with the floor.

Sometimes plain square-edged timber – say 150x25mm (6xl in) planed – forms a skirting, but molded pieces arc more usual. Nowadays ‘torus’, ‘ovolo’, ‘ogee’ and the plain chamfered and rounded types are by far the commonest. Plastic skirting boards are another modern development.

A gap between the skirting and the floor surface can easily be hidden with a quadrant molding – nailed to the skirting. not the floor, so any shrinkage or swelling in the floor won’t open up cracks visible from above.

If a skirting board has simply come loose, use a torch to look behind it for any wooden battens or plugs into which the original fixings may go. Then nail through into these. If the plaster continues to the floor, nail through it into the masonry behind. But if there’s bare brickwork without such battens or plugs – or if your nailing loosens previously sound fixings – you’ll have to use countersunk screws and wallplugs, inserted into holes made with a masonry drill.

If, however, actual damage or rot demands the removal of one or more whole sections, a bolster chisel makes a good lever for prising boards off. The best place to begin removal is at an external corner; otherwise take the overlapping board at an internal corner, or start at the point where the skirting meets the doorway.

Usually skirting boards are nailed in place, but you must be alert for screws (their heads may be covered with filler or even wooden plugs). Unscrew them. first, or, if that’s impossible, cut away a little plaster above the skirting board and slip a cold chisel behind the skirting to chop through them before you finish prising the board off.

Getting a Building Permit

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Electrical, Home repair, Plumbing, Services    by: ITC

A building permit will probably be required if you plan to do the following:

1. Alter or change the external appearance of your house. For example if you: add a porch; add a screen in a porch; add or remove a window or door, or if you build a fence or wall.

2. Do any electrical work.

3. Do any plumbing work.

4. Add or remove any structural element.

5. Build an addition to your house.

6. Erect a separate building on your property.

Applying for a building permit

To obtain a building permit, a set of plans showing your proposed alterations must be submitted to the local Building Department where they will be checked for compliance with the National and local Building Code. If the plans are up to code a permit will be issued, usually for a small fee.

The permit will be valid for one year after which time a new application must be made if the work has not started. The permit must be displayed prominently at various stages of the construction work you may be required to call in the local building inspector to check the work for compliance, for instance, before and after any footings have been made.

This checking procedure ensures that the work is indeed being carried out according to the approved plans and that the method of construction and the quality of the materials is up to the standard set out in the Building Code. Although this procedure may not be necessary on your particular job, however, the Building Inspector may call by at any time to check on the progress of the work.

Always be sure to complete the job according to the approved plans. If you are in any doubt, call the building inspector and ask his advice, never try to guess. This could be a waste of your time and money as any work not covered by the approved plans or not up to the standards of the code may be condemned at any stage of the building.

If your plans are rejected by the building department for non-compliance you will receive a notification of the reasons given. In some cases this may be simply dealt with by getting your building contractor to amend the plans making sure all the changes are incorporated before re-submitting them.

In other cases the layout of your property may make it impossible to comply with the requirements of the code. In this case you may seek an exception to the law by filing an application with the Zoning Board of Review. When filing for an exemption, evidence supporting your position must be presented with your application, together with a block plan showing all lots within a specified distance including all buildings and marked with owners’ names and addresses.

A plan of your lot showing the existing structures, and plans and elevations of the proposed work must also be submitted. A decision will be made after a public meeting of the Board during which any member of the public may speak for or against the project.

Reglazing a Window

Filed Under: DIY Outdoor, Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

First you must line the rebate with putty. You can either take a ball of putty in the palm of your hand and squeeze it out between thumb and forefinger using your thumb to press it in; or you can roll the putty into finger- thick sausages and press these into place. Wet your hands before handling putty to prevent it sticking to your fingers. and knead it until it is pliable and any surface oils are thoroughly mixed in.

Next, press the pane into the puttied rebate with the palms of your hands, so that putty oozes out, around and behind the glass. Apply pressure around the edges rather than in the centre of the pane and check that, when you’ve finished. the glass is separated from the frame on the inside by a bed of putty which is 2mm to 3mm (up to ‘Vain) thick.

Now for the unnerving part — nailing the glass in place. It’s best to use glazing sprigs, but you could make do with 19mm (3/4in) panel pins that have had their heads nipped off with pliers. You’ll need at least two per side, spaced no more than 230mm (9in) apart, and you must be sure to drive them squarely into the wood so they don’t pinch and crack the glass. When you’ve finished, just over 6mm (1/4in) of pin should be showing.

The final stage is to fill the rest of the rebate with a triangular fillet of putty that neatly covers the pins. Apply the putty in the same way as when lining the rebate, and use a putty knife or an ordinary filling knife to do the shaping, mitring the corners of the fillet as neatly as possible. Wet the knife blade to prevent the putty sticking to it as you draw it over the fillet.

Clean off the excess putty — including any that oozed out inside the pane earlier — and allow to dry hard before painting.

When you need to reglaze a window that isn’t at ground level, you’ll have to jerk from a ladder. Obviously you’ll have to be organized when working at a height. Tap out most of the glass first from inside — and make sure there’s no one standing below as you do so. Put all the tools and equipment in a bucket which you can hang on a hook attached to the ladder at the top. Don’t try to carry the glass — it’s best to get someone to pass it through the window.