January 07 2015 0Comment

How to Frame a Basement

While most people can appreciate a properly finished basement, many people are unaware of its many benefits. Not only will a properly finished basement add value to your home, but it will also extend your living space. In other words, it can be used as a place for you to host game nights with your friends, a place for the kids to play or become an in-law suite. Whatever you decide to do with the additional space is up to you – having the space to use is the tricky part.

So, if you have an unfinished basement, what do you have to do in order to make that actual usable, living space?  Well, there are a few steps that need to be taken before you can get started on actually making the space liveable, but once you have your design drawn up, and you have gotten all of the inspections and permits done you are ready to frame! Now, depending on the state of your basement before framing you might have the additional step of having to waterproof or do any necessary repairs – however, some unfinished basements are already waterproofed. So this will depend on your situation. However, once that is complete you are on track to frame your basement and make it into a real, usable room.

*It should be noted that framing a basement is a big job, so if you are a novice DIYer or have very little construction experience this might be a job that requires some professional help.*

What Tools Will I Need?
In order to properly frame a basement you need to make sure that you have the right tools ready to go. Here is a list of the tools that you will need.

  • Power saw
  • Dust mask
  • Drill
  • Nail gun
  • Air compressor
  • Plumb Bob
  • Safety glasses
  • Hammer
  • Laser Level
  • Measuring Tape
  • Framing square
  • Either Wood or Metal Studs
  • Speed Square
  • Carpenter Pencils
  • Sill Gasket

What Exactly Needs to be Framed?
Many novice framers are surprised to find out that you actually need to frame more than just the walls and ceiling. In addition to these, you will also need to frame the windows, doors and electrical outlets.You’ll need to frame the walls and ceilings, of course. But what else? Doors, partition walls, windows, soffits, and electrical fixtures will all need to be framed too.

Is There More Than One Way to Frame a Wall?
Yes, there are actually two options. Here is how you frame a room each way.

Building a Wall in Place

  1. Start by lining up the bottom and top pieces. Once you have done that you have to mark where the studs are needed.
  2. Make sure to check if the ceiling and floor are level. If they are not level then you will have to added work of having to  measure  each stud. This is done by nailing the top plate to the ceiling joist. Doing this is a two-person job, so you will want to either get someone to help you or use a couple of clamps in order to hold the top plate in place while you make sure it is secure.
  3. Then, by using a plumb bob, you will have to mark two points on the floor. These will be for the bottom plate.
  4. Now between these two points snap a line using a chalk line. It is important that his line runs parallel to the wall, as this will ensure that your wall is straight.
  5. The next step is to put your sill gasket under the bottom plate on the floor. Make sure that you are lining it up with the snapped line. Leave a minimum of ½” space between the studs and the wall’s foundation. 
  6. Cut your the vertical board and then place it into the top and bottom plates. This board, also known as the stud, should have a nice snug fit. Don’t let it get too tight where you have to use a lot of force in order to get it in. 
  7. Once you have gotten all of the boards in position take a few minutes and use your level to make sure that all of the studs are flush and your wall is straight.
  8. Finally, secure your bottom plate.

Building on the Floor
If you decide to go the route of building each section on the floor, you will need some help. It should also be noted that if your basement floor is not level than building on the floor will be extra challenging.

  1. Check each stud for curves and mark each curve. It is important that you make sure all of the curves are facing the same direction as this will stop the wall from having a curve itself.
  2. Like the option above, when building on the floor you will need to place each stud 16 inches from centre, and then secure the bottom and the top plate.
  3. You will have to make sure that you have enough room to tip the wall up. This will be depending on the levelness of the floor as well as the positioning of the ductwork. If these make tipping the wall too difficult you may want to consider putting the top of the wall into place first, then sliding the bottom of the wall into place. 

*It should also be noted that building on the floor is only good for solid walls. This means that if you are working on a wall that has a door or window you will need to go with option 1 and build it in place.


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