Putting a Doorway in stud partitions

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

To put a doorway in a stud partition, first expose the framework below the skin of the partition. Find the stud positions on each side of the proposed opening by tapping the surface and probing with a bradawl. Draw in the stud positions on the surface and another line between them to mark the height of the door frame plus an allowance for the wood lintel.

Cut along this outline with a keyhole saw continuing the cut through the skin across the top of any studs or bracing you come across. Lever off the skin to expose the framework and the back of the other skin. Remove the latter in the same way.

Cut out all the framework within the opening and then make up two short “trimmer” studs to support the lintel. Nail the trimmer studs to the original studs on each side of the opening and the lintel to the tops of the trimmer studs. Nail through the lintel into the base of any cut stud.

If the door frame is narrower than the distance between the trimmer studs, fit an intermediate between the lintel and sole plate, linking it with short braces to one of the trimmer studs.

Cut out the section of sole plate across the bottom of the opening and fit the door frame. Finish the partition by nailing on gypsum- board and applying a skim coat of plaster over the top.

A hatchway between a kitchen and dining room can be extremely useful, and you may wish to consider installing one should you have to block off a redundant doorway, or to suit other remodeling plans. Plan its position carefully so that it coincides with a work surface in the kitchen and something like a worktop or small table in the dining room so that there will be somewhere to place dishes and plates, for example.

The method for making a pass-through is basically the same as that for making a doorway, except that the opening is not continued to the floor. In a wood framed partition, a wood sill piece is needed between the studs on each side of the opening.

The pass-through can be left open with plastered edges and a wood sill, screwed across the bottom or a wooden lining frame can be fitted to take hinged or sliding doors, or some form of roller blind to give the maximum amount of privacy, and also to prevent cooking smells, for example, from drifting through.

Bridging Openings

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

The way you tackle the job of making an opening in a wall or removing the wall completely in your house, depends on the type of wall it is and its construction.

A load-bearing wall contributes to the strength of the house by supporting some of its structure: a floor/ceiling, an upstairs wall or part of the roof.

A non-load-bearing wall is simply a dividing partition and its complete removal will have no effect on the rest of the house.

Inspect the floor space above it for signs that it supports the joists, or an upstairs wall. Look in the attic, too, to see if any of the roof framework rests on the wall in question.

All external walls are load-bearing and in general any wall at right-angles to the joists will be load- bearing too. Walls that run parallel to the joists are probably non-load-bearing.

Walls may be of brick, concrete blocks or be wood framed. All three types of construction are used for both load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls.

When you make an opening in a wall, no matter how narrow or wide, you must insert a supporting beam or lintel across the opening to take the load of the structure above, even if it is a non-load-bearing wall. The problem is that even by removing a narrow row of bricks or blocks to make room for the be will put the structure at risk.

For a narrow opening like a door, the bond in pattern of the bricks or blocks will tend to make the wall above the opening self-supporting (or self-corbelling) and only a small triangular section of masonry will be at risk. This can be removed, the lintel fitted and the masonry replaced.

With a very wide opening, the self supporting tendency will disappear and a wide area of the wall will be liable to collapse. To prevent this happening. you must support the wall (and sometimes the ceiling on either side) temporarily with heavy wood and adjustable props.

Openings in walls may be spanned by lengths of concrete, steel or wood. Those for fitting over small openings like doors and windows are called lintels; those for spanning wider gaps are called beams. The following are common: Steel Joist — a heavy I or L-shaped girder for spanning very wide gaps in load-bearing walls; Reinforced Concrete Lintel — for internal or solid brick external walls in spans of up to 10ft.

Heavy to lift and often cast on the job site, is the Pre-stressed Concrete Lintel — lighter than reinforced concrete lintels but not suitable for load- bearing walls, except in upper floors. For spans of up to loft, the wood lintel is used in wood framed walls.

Fitting Services in a Partition Wall

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

Careful planning is essential when arranging a partition — this extends to working out cable and pipe runs and installing them as you build.

The time to put either cables or pipes into a stud partition is when the framework is finished.

Whenever installing cables or pipes in any kind of wall, remember that they must always run vertically or horizontally directly to or from each fitting.

To run cable through the framework of a stud partition, bore a 3/4in hole through either the head plate or sole plate into the ceiling or floor void as appropriate and, depending on the direction from which the cable is to come, drill similar holes through the centers of any bracing that cross the cable route.

Feed in the cable. leaving plenty of excess. Cut a hole in the drywall for the fitting and feed the end of the cable through this as you fit the drywall in place.

Working in the same way. make sure the holes you drill through the framework are larger than the diameter of the pipe. This will make maneuvering them into place easier and allow them to expand and contract as the temperature fluctuates. Keep the number of joints inside the partition to the bare minimum and make sure you test any plumbing system before you finish the cladding; if there is a leaking joint you will be able to rectify it. If the pipes are to drop down from the ceiling you could remove a floorboard in the room above and feed them down through the partition from there.

Alternatively, pipes can be clipped into notches cut in the edges of the bracing and studs. Using a back saw and bevel- edge chisel, cut notches wide enough to accept a pipe clip of the right size and deep enough so that the pipe does not touch the drywall cladding.

Electrical cables can be run across the surface of the blocks in pipes and held in place with clips.

For pipes, use a hammer and bricklayer’s chisel to cut out a channel across the face of the blocks, making it wide enough to accept the appropriate size of pipe clip and deep enough so that the pipe will be flush with the surface.

Should you want to bury a hot water pipe, it is best to run it through another pipe of the next size up, which will act as a sleeve and allow for expansion.

Laying the Blocks

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

Before laying the blocks it is as well to carry out a dummy run on the first two courses, so you will know how best to arrange them to keep the number of cut blocks to a minimum. Set them out along the layer of mortar in line with the scribed mark, spacing them a finger-thickness apart.

If the partition is to have a door in it, now is the time to position the frame. Nail battens across the corners of the frame and across the bottom to hold it square and prop it up with a batten nailed to the top.

Now begin laying the blocks properly. It is best to build up about four courses of blocks at each end of the partition first and then stretch a stringline between them as a guide for the blocks in the middle.

Trowel a layer of mortar onto the original thin layer and “butter” the end of the first block with more mortar. Set the block in place against the scribed line and against the wall to form a neat mortar joint. Tap the block level and upright with the handle of the trowel. Repeat the procedure for the next block in the course and lay two or three more before working back towards the wall with the second, third and fourth courses. Collect the mortar that is squeezed out from between the blocks for reuse.

Make sure the blocks butt up to the guide batten and check them every now and again with a mason’s level to ensure that you are keeping the courses upright and level. Tie each alternate course to the wall with galvanized metal wall ties. Similarly secure the door frame to the blockwork; build up the center of the partition.

If you need to cut any blocks, do this with a bricklayer’s chisel and hammer. Measure up the block and scribe a cutting line on all four sides with the end of the chisel. Then tap gently along this line with the chisel. Finally, lay the block face up, set the chisel in the center of the cutting line and strike it a sharp blow which will separate the two halves of the block.


1. Dry-laying to check for fit; allow a finger-thickness between blocks for mortar. Vertical battens give support until the mortar hardens.

2. Spreading the mortar bed on the floor; scribe the line of one face of the wall in the mortar with the point of the trowel.

3. “Buttering” one end with mortar before laying the block; place this end against the previous block.

4. Laying the block on the mortar bed, flush with the scribed line.

5. Tamping the block level with the adjacent block using the trowel handle; check each block as it is laid with a spirit-level.

6. Securing a metal frame-clamp to the side wall; tie alternate courses in this way.

7. Checking the face of the blockwork for alignment; use a long spirit-level or straight-edge and check in a number of directions.

8. Nail temporary “strainer” battens across a door-frame to keep it square and support it in an upright position with a plank nailed to the top.

9. A door-height opening needs a lintel above it to support the blockwork; a course of bricks on top will align with the blockwork.

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.