How Do You Build a Wall?

Just build a wall. What could be simpler?  There's is a lot more to building a wall than you might think. Today I want to try and clarify a wall building concept that took me a long time to figure out and was really quite frustrating.  It boiled down to which style of wall building should you do:

  1. Build your wall on the floor of your basement and then "lift it into place"
  2. Build your wall "in place", nail each board as you go (a.k.a. "stick-by-stick" )

Build a wall, then lift it into place

build a wall - lift

How do you build a wall? Not like this, if you're doing it yourself.

Let's talk about option "A" first, build a wall on the the floor and then lift it into place. Several of basement and construction books have photos of two people working together, building the wall on the floor of the room they are finishing and then lifting it into place.

From a visual standpoint this is the easier method to understand.  This was the first method that I used.  My "one small wall" was going to be about 8 feet long and I had plenty of room on the ground to build it.

It was a little tricky using this method solo because you need to hold the wood straight as you start to screw them together.  (Yes, I recommend starting with screws because it's easier to back out of a mistake.  And yes… you will make a lot of mistakes at first.

4 Reason NOT to build a wall on the floor and lift:

  1. Can be difficult to do solo.
  2. Lifting into place means a gap that you'll have to shim, no way around it.
  3. You won't always have the floor space to build the wall
  4. It's a slower method of building

I built about 3 of the walls on the floor and lifted them into place before I ran into a spot where I just didn't have the room on the floor to do so.  Then I had to learn the stick by stick method.  Once I did, I never went back, it's the only way to go. I highly recommended that you build your test wall on the floor but do the rest stick by stick.

Build a wall stick by stick (or "in place")

how do you build a wall - kids room

I built all of these walls stick by stick. Once I knew what I was doing I could build a wall like this solo, in about 2 hours.

The tricky part about building a wall board by board is that it takes some practice and testing to figure out exactly how to do it.

The toughest part for me was understanding that I had to use a plumb bob to transfer the location of the top plate to the floor. This is the only way to know exactly where to line it up so that the wall was plumb (straight up and down).

I'm going to give you my version of the steps below but I would still strongly recommend reading 2 or even 3 books that have a framing section that shows you how to do this.  By reading it from several different perspectives, plus trying it out yourself, it should start to click.

(UPDATE:  I've been looking all week for a YouTube video on how to do this but everything I've found is build on the floor and lift, looks like I may need to be the first.  The books however, do have pictures and example)

[ I've included basement books that include this info at my Amazon store, an affiliate link. ]

8 Steps to build a wall in place for your basement

  1. Line up the top and bottom plates and mark where the studs need to go, starting from the end make a mark every 16".  (check your local code to see if this differs but 16" on center is fairly standard). Don't worry if you forget this step, you can measure each seperately, this just makes it easier.
  2. Nail your top plate to the ceiling joist. You may need some "blocking" if your top plates is parallel to the joists. If you're working solo like I was then use a couple of quick-grip clamps to hold the top plate in place while you position it and secure it.
  3. Plumb down to the floor and mark two points for your bottom plate. Use a chaulk line to snap a line between these two points. Your snapped line will run parallel to the wall.
  4. Place your bottom plate on the floor and line it up on the line you just snapped.  Even though you don't have any vertical studs in place at this point your top and bottom plates should be almost perfectly aligned.  DON’T NAIL IN YOUR BOTTOM PLATE JUST YET.
  5. Cut and install a stud (a vertical board for the wall) into the top and bottom plates.  The stud should fit snug in between the top and bottom. It should be able to stand up on its on.  If you have to really hammer on it to get it in then it's probably to long. Take it down and trim a small amount off.
  6. Repeat step 5 until all of the studs are in place.  You may have less than 16" between the last two boards, that's okay.
  7. Take your 4' level and double check that the wall is plumb (up and down) and relatively flush on the service.  By flush I mean that none of the studs are bowed so much that they stick out further than the other studs.  If they do then you'll have a hump in your drywall and your wall will look wavy.  A bowed stud who's hump goes towards the wall is better, the drywall will still be straight on the outside.
  8. Nail your bottom plate into the floor. I recommend a concrete masonry gun. Mainly because it uses tiny little bullets and you basically have a gun in your basement, very cool.  You may see some videos/books where they glue it down first, I didn't do that.  Mainly because I messed up a lot at first and needed to be able to move the wall a bit.  The contractors I consulted with said it was not a big deal to skip it (for a basement project).

TIP:  If your bottom plate is not perfectly straight you may want to nail one end of the plate into the floor first and then use a small sledgehammer to knock the rest of it into alignment before you nail it down. You'll know this because the bottom plate won't line up perfectly with the chalk line that you snapped.

I hope that helps.  Building a wall on the floor by yourself can be really frustrating.  My second wall took me about two hours to prep and then when I lifted it into place it didn't fit because one section of the basement floor was just slightly higher.  It was killing me that I had to undo most of it and guess what, I had nailed it together so that was not easy.

basement finishing jasonOnce you get the hang of how to build a wall stick by stick you can do it by yourself and it's actually really fun.  I promise you you'll be sneaking down to the basement before you go to sleep to get one last look at what you've created.

Good luck, ping me with questions, I'm working on a video to go along with this article because I couldn't find any that I liked to share with you online. If someone finds one please tell me!

Cheers -  Jason

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Questions and Comments

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  1. David Lee says

    This is such an awesome website, and such great advice. Thanks so much for documenting your learnings, mistakes, recommendations, etc.

  2. Chris says

    Great info. About to start my basement project and stumbled on your site. Unreal, there is a website for everything! It never occured to me to type in! Anyhow a quick question...if you build stick by stick, what method are you using to nail in the studs? Obviously if you "pre build" the wall on the floor you can nail the studs directly into the top and bottom of the plates. If the plates are installed first you can't do that. Are you toe nailing everything? I definately agree on the stick by stick method in the basement environment due to the uneven floors, but it seems nailing in the studs will be a bit more messy. Thanks again!

    • says

      Chris - Did you see my other site? Just kidding, although... the domain is available. That's great that you've started. Yes, toe nailing is the way to go. In fact it's the only way, as you said, when you're stick building (highly recommended). It's rock solid and it's all hidden by the drywall once it goes up. Good luck! - Jason

      • Dan says

        Hey Jason,
        To extend Chris' question, how did you toe nail exterior walls to both the top and bottom plates? For a partition wall, it would make sense to "stick build," considering the room to work with a hammer on both sides of the plate. However, when an exterior wall is just inches away from the concrete wall, how is it even possible to maneuver a hammer for the backside toe nail? Great site!

        • says

          Dan - I think I'm understand this correctly, you're asking how to nail in your outside framed walls to the joists and floor? The top plate of your wall will nail straight up into the floor joist above (no toenail required). Same for the bottom plate, except you'll need a concrete gun, but again straight down. You'll have to toenail the studs to the bottom and top plates but you should have plenty of clearance for that. The only part that was really tricky for me was when I needed blocking. For that, I couldn't fit my nail gun in place so I had to use screws and an impact driver.

          My video series does the best job of explaining how exactly how to do framing. It's definitely one of the trickier concepts to write about.

          Hope that helps! - Jason

          • Adrian Cucer says

            Hey Jason! I also had to do blocking and here is a fast method I came up with and used with flawless results (framing gun): Take the peice of 2×4 that you cut to size for blocking and clamp it to a similar piece but an inch or so longer. The longer piece is on the bottom. Put the blocking in to place (use the hammer if it's tight). The longer piece on the bottom won't let the original piece go higher than the joists, so you can shoot the framing gun at an angle through them. Remove clamp and reuse the longer piece. Hope this helps!

  3. Rick says

    Hi Jason,
    Love the site! Getting ready to start on my basement!! Fortunately, it's partially finished(WOOT WOOT!!) I still have to do the exterior framing on the walls. But all rough electrical, plumbing, etc is already in place. Once I get the framing done, I can run the outlets, lights, switches, etc. Then have the drywallers come in. My question for you is INSULATION? I see in your pics that you use the R13 Batt with a moisture barrier. Do you do this to save space or is it just preference. I was considering using the foam panels and gluing them to the exterior walls, then framing out from there. What's your opinion?...

    • says

      Rick - Thanks man. No preference really. For me it was just easier to work with and a bit cheaper but both are good options. Have fun with it! I love our basement. - Jason

  4. Steve says


    Have you used steel studs, or primarily lumber? Thinking of giving wall framing the ole college try, and thought I'd test it out on some crappy 2x4s from Lowes before graduating to the good stuff.

    Great website...thanks. Gives hope to hacks like myself.



    • says

      Hello Steve - I've never used steel studs, I heard those are nice but they're a whole different ballgame. College try? I don't know about you but my college effort was sub-par at best. I want to see some astronaut effort out there, you either make it off the moon or you die trying!
      Good luck! That is all.


  5. Richard says

    What you don't make clear is that the end stud, at the corner or at the doorway, is not included in the 16"on center. The first 4x8 piece of Sheetrock must start at the EDGE, not at the center of that stud. So, the first space between the first two studs is smaller than the other spaces by 3/4 of an inch. If this is not clear, then the first piece of Sheetrock will end at the edge, not the center of the fourth stud.

  6. Adam says

    We are just starting the planning phase of finishing our basement and are very excited to start building. In our area we need to build a floating wall because of potential movement of basement floor. Can you still build it stick by stick in this way? If so, how does that work?

  7. Paul says

    Jason - Great site. I'm looking to finish my basement by mid-2013. I've started reading up on everything. One book I am reading says to use furring strips against the foundation walls, not 2x4s. What do you know about this? I think I would prefer 2x4s just to be consistent.

    • says

      Hey Paul - That's awesome - 2013 is your year! I also read about furring strips and I considered them strongly. But in the end the cost savings weren't really there and things like receptacles and light switches seemed to all be standardized for 2x4 construction. The professional companies I talked to also all use 2x4 and not furring. It's an option, and it's not a bad one, but I would personally recommend 2x4 unless there's a specific reason to go against the standard.

      Great question, good luck on your basement finishing project!

      Cheers - Jason

  8. Erik Nickel says

    Hi Jason, really enjoying your site. Good work. I am just embarking on a scary big basement project, over 1500 sq ft. I have done a fair bit of outdoor construction before (decks, fences, etc) but havent done walls, and your site is very helpful.

    Couple questions: The basement walls (concrete) are not studded yet, but do have 3" of spray foam applied to them. I'm told I neednt worry about vapor barrier as a result. This true? I'm in Canada, so cold is definitely a concern. Any other concerns framing inside of spray-foamed concerete?

    Other thing is by code I need to "float" the walls on big nails to allow for floor movement. Basically there are 2 bottom plates separated by 1 1/2" and big-ass nails driven through them both so the wall can move up and down on the nails. Crazy. You have any tips or experience on doing this? It has me a bit freaked.

    Regina, Saskatchewan

    • says

      Nice! 1500 square feet - you can do tons of stuff with that space. Okay, I've never built a floating wall but a few people have asked now. This video is the best explanation I've found on the web. Doesn't look to bad, but definitely a bit more work that just nailing it into the concrete. Erik - There's a free Gold membership (book and design files) for you if you'll send me some pics and video of your floating wall, I really want to do an article on that! Cheers - Jason

  9. Nathan says

    If it isn't nailed down first, how do you keep the bottom plate from sliding around on the floor while you are standing up the studs? What is the benefit of waiting?

    • says

      Nathan - The big benefit to me was that I wasn't sure if I had built the wall straight and plumb, especially for my first couple of walls.

      I was worried that if I nailed it to the floor first and then had to adjust it that I would have to rip it out of the floor. Not easy.

      If you cut the studs the right length they will put enough pressure on the bottom plate to hold it in place. For me, a perfect length cut meant I needed to tap the top of the stud with my fist or rubber mallet to get it to fit between the top and bottom plates. That's "Tap" NOT "Pound". If I cut it too short I'd have to shim it or more often just toss it and use it some place else. I DID nail the stud to the bottom plate, so once you had a few in place the entire wall moved together. Then if it was not plumb I could just knock it with my foot or sledgehammer to line it up.

      Hope that helps. - Jason

  10. Brandon Drury says

    Hmm, thought I already submitted this.

    Which of the books at your Amazon store have info about stick by stick framing? BTW, thanks for the deal on your book! Downloaded last night just in time...

  11. David Jonsson says


    The guy at the lumber yard suggested I start my wall about a half inch out from the wall for some dead air space (like extra insulation of sorts). Looking at it now, I'm thinking it looks like a challenge. Hard to not have the wall to work against. What do you think?


    • says

      Hey David - Yes, he's right. You should have some space. And... you're right too, it's harder without the cinder block wall there as a reference. It's a little tricky to explain in text and pictures. I have a step by step wall framing video as part of the package deal with my book. Of course, I'm a bit biased, but I highly recommend it! A lot of people have told me it's worth 2 to 3 times the cost.

      Good Luck! You can finish your own basement.


      • David Jonsson says

        Thanks for the quick reply! Well, talking to some other folks and hearing from you, I'm gonna do that gap after all; a whole inch actually. One other thing- I've seen so many differing opinions on vapour barrier that it's hard to tell which one is right. Right now, I'm thinking I will put the barrier over top of the insulation, on the outside of the studs before putting up the drywall. What say you?


        • says

          David - I can't reliable comment on the vapor barrier question, at least not yet. I just haven't done enough research on it nor have I had to install my own. I'm hoping to add some articles in the near future on this topic. Let me know if you find any good resources. Thanks - Jason

  12. Robert Diederichsen says

    Great site. I would love to see a section or video on framing corners and corners less than 90 degrees such as 45 degrees. Keep up the great work.


  13. danielle says

    This was great information for starting on finishing our basement, but I'm really apprehensive about attaching the bottom plate. I would really rather not compromise the concrete floor for fear of water seeping up through. We have a very old home and something I've never seen in our basement. There is a 2inch wide trough around the perimeter of the whole basement. We have been here 3 year, had some rather significant rain and snow fall and never had standing water in the basement, sometimes the trough has a little water in it but never enough to overflow. It really seems like a pretty clever way of keeping any water out of the basement but kind of puzzles me about working around it to put up exterior walls. Do you think it's ok just to place the wall a few inches in front of the trough? Is it possible to NOT attach the bottom plate?

    • says

      Hi Danielle - Yes, you will have to attach the bottom plate. Not knowing the exact condition of your flooring I recommend you put up a small test wall to see how the nail adheres to your concrete. Does it break apart, etc. I also would recommend you use an adhesive in addition to nailing your bottom plate.

      As for the water trough, you should be able to build in front of that, just give it a couple inches of clearance so it's no compromised. These days those are installed outside of the foundation, not inside.

      Your situation is unique and I would recommend have a few professional companies come out to give you a quote and an opinion on the water trough. You will also want to check with your local building department to make sure you'll be up to code with that trough exposed behind the wall.

      I know this sounds like a lot of work, but it's just the first step of many. Get these "hammered" out, so to speak and you'll be on your way. You can do it!

      - Jason

  14. Matt H says

    Thanks for the helpful tips. I took the plunge this week and started my first wall. I'm using your recommended stick by stick method. SO far so good thanks to my new 12" saw (purchased from your amazon store) and new nail gun! Using real power tools makes a big difference.

    • says

      Matt - That's awesome! Thanks for purchasing through the store, I saw that go through. Good luck with it, stay safe and have fun.


  15. james says

    I am in a newly constructed house and looking to finish my basement immediately. I've heard from various people that we should wait to do anything (including painting) until the house is settled. What are your thoughts on this particularly pertaining to the basement?


  16. Lynette Jakins says

    Hi Jason,

    This website is so informative, we really appreciate the effort you have made to enlighten us . We are keen to get started and hopefully save ourselves lot's of money.


  17. Kurt says

    When building an interior wall my city's code states that there has to be a gap on top or bottom or the wall to prevent cracking due to ground expansion. Do you have any tips/advice on how to best achieve this gap?


  18. sunny says

    hi jason, awesome website buddy.
    the 'buid-a-wall' section made sense to me until the point you started step 1.
    would have helped if there were some pictures/video demo.
    1.did you actually included the pictures/vids for building a wall in your book?
    2. do you teach small projects in the book? or is it just on website?

    once again, good work. really impressed by your way of presentation.

    • says

      Hello Sunny - Yes! I have several videos (that are included when you purchase the book) showing how to build a wall- step by step. The book and videos should give you 95% of what you need to know to finish your basement. The only things I don't cover are drywall and plumbing. It's been used / tested / revised after feedback from over 2,000 amateur DIY homeowners - many of whom did in fact finish their own basement. You can do itk! - Jason

  19. Andrew says

    I am stick building a basement wall and have a question I haven't found a google answer for. The wall is split at the ceiling by a (steel) structural beam. I can't make a continuous string line to ensure straightness at the ceiling, but I understand I should install that beam first. What's a good way to make sure the two "halves" of the ceiling beam line up?

    • says

      Hi Andrew - Great question. What you want to do is draw a single continuous line (snap a chalk line) on the floor first. Then use a plumb bob to transfer two or three reference points to the ceiling. Use a clamp or a friend to hold the string end of the bob to the joist in the ceiling, then see if the point of the plumb bob is pointing directly at the reference line on the floor.

      Once it's lined up, mark and X on the spot where the string is meeting the ceiling joist, that's your reference point. You can mark the front or the back of where the bottom and top plates will go, I found the front to be the easiest.

      It takes a little time to get the plumb bob just right but the results are worth it, a super straight wall. Hopefully I've explained it ok. Good luck!


  20. Tom says

    What is a "plate?" Everythiong is defined so well, but not the term "plate," yet it seems to be a pretty important term. The whole process comes to a halt because I don't know what a plate is. Is that one of those metal things that the wood sits in?

    • says

      The "plate" is just another word for saying the wood beam that makes up the bottom of your wall. It's not metal (unless you're framing your whole basement with metal). The "top plate" and "bottom plate" are just referring to the wood beams making up the top and bottom of the wall. It's called a plate because the rest of the wall studs sit on top of it. As a steak sits on top of a plate. Good question. - Jason

  21. Lori says

    Could you talk about toe nailing? How many nails do I need at each end of the stud? How can I nail them without the stud moving?

    • says

      Hi Lori - I used 2 nails on each end of the stud. Getting the stud not to move is more art than science, it certainly took a little practice for me to "nail" it. Ba-ha-ha, nail puns. What I did first was to try and cut the stud so it just a touch longer than it needed to be - this way it was already snug in it's place before I went to nail it. I would also set it back a .25 inch or so from vertical - knowing that it would move just a bit once it nailed it in place.

      Do NOT place your left hand anywhere near where the nail is going to go - some boards have weirds knots in them that can make a nail turn in unexpected ways - very common injury is someone toe-nailing their hand! - Jason

      ps. I cover this topic in detail and with video in my basement finishing course.

  22. Robert McLay says


    I am thinking about putting in a Dricore subfloor. Do you have any experience with this product? I have seen that you can put the Dricore down first and build the walls on top of it. I have also seen it where you can build the walls and then fit the dricore in, which requires more cuts, etc... It seems like Dricore recommends putting the floor down first, but I want to make sure I do it right the first time. I am assuming I would just nail the bottom plate right through the Dricore, but not sure if I need to use pressure treated for the bottom plate. I may do it for peace of mind. Any thoughts on the Dricore and how it fits with building walls?

    • says

      Hi Robert - I haven't used Dricore, so my experience is zero. I would still frame the walls first and then install the dri-core. As a general rule I recommend doing the flooring last. If you do end up using it, be sure to come back and let us know what you thought of it. - Jason

  23. Dave says

    Wondering how you secure the studs when using the building wall in place method. Do you use screws and drive at 45 degrees?

    • says

      Hi Dave - I use a nail gun and "toe-nail" two nails at the top and 2 at the bottom. Each at a roughly 45 degree angle. Screws are slower and more expensive but they work fine and are perfectly legal per code. In fact I started with screws for my first couple of walls because I didn't have a nail gun and wasn't quite ready to commit to nailing top-plates to the joists in my house. Good luck, hope that helps! - Jason

  24. Dan says

    Love the information Jason.
    I'm about to finish my basement and have done basements before. My issue is that the outside of my basement is metal studding. Do i have to use metal for inside walls or can i use wood?

  25. Anthony Hill says

    Jason, I have a new home and I want to finish the basement myself. The joists in the the ceiling are I-joists, formed from plywood sandwiched between two thin (1 inch) pieces of what look like furring strips. when my walls are running parallel to these joists, how do I attach the ceiling plates to the I- joists? Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    • Matthew Lemmon says

      You have to put 2x4's between the joists, level with the bottom of the joist, it's called blocking. Nail the top plate of your wall to the blocking. I spaced mine every 24 inches. This process takes a lot less time with a laser measure.

  26. Rick says

    Great site and appreciate the advice. One question I have is what are your thoughts on using 2 bottom plates (non treated on top of treated) Is this a waste of money or would it make sense when it comes to drywalling and finish trim leaving more room for screwing and nailing? I appreciate your input.

    • says

      Hey Rick - In my opinion it's a waste of money. You can use the vertical studs to secure trim. In "some" areas you have a double bottom plate where floating walls are required, but that's not the case for most areas. - Jason

  27. Trina says

    Thanks for this tutorial! I'm a little late to the party. What do you mean by "plates" when you talk about lining up top plates and bottom plates? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Trina - You're fashionably late. "plates" are just a fancy building word for boards. 2 x 4's. When you say a "plate" you are just referring specifically to the board at the top of the wall or the bottom of the wall - versus the vertical boards (or studs) that are in between the top and bottom boards. Does that help? Very common question, I appreciate you asking. ALL questions are welcome here guys - don't let ANYONE try to tell you there's a dumb question - ask away! I won't bite. - Jason

  28. Sean Lynch says

    I am a contractor and was intrigued by the original link's picture and was curious why it was marked with a red X. After reading your article I understood why. For a beginner, building a wall and lifting it into place poses many challenges. Lol. Even for a "professional ", sometimes lol
    I do mostly renovations and 1, screws are better. 2, stick by stick is sometimes all the space you can work in. Lol. After reading the article I realize that you are well on your way to learning a trade. Congratulations on not being intimidated.

    • says

      Thanks Sean - I've heard from several contractors who have a tough time understanding why some of the very basics of finishing a basement need an explanation. But as you say in your comment - for a beginner - there's a different starting point. - Jason

  29. Rhonda says

    I am finishing my basement and my contractor does not want to nail the stud into the top plate. what is the purpose of the top plate?

    • says

      Hi Rhonda - The top plate connects the studs to the ceiling of your basement. It is absolutely require, there's no way to build a wall without it. Now, you may see that some people use a "double" top plate.... I don't know why, single should be all you need. If someone knows why you would have two and wants to chime in on the comments - I'd love to hear it. - Jason

      • Tom says

        A double top plate is used for framing walls that are intended to bear loads from the roof, floors, etc. They are required to distribute the load from floor joists/trusses/rafters that do not fall directly above a stud. Because finished basement walls are not carrying any load (other than the weight of the drywall) the double top plate is not required, just like how headers are not required above door and window openings.

  30. Tom says

    Hey! Good tips and I really appreciate your taking the time to answer so many questions! I wanted to strongly encourage everyone to pay a visit to their local building department before starting this process! If you live in an area with expansive soil, you MUST install a float joint in the wall to isolate the slab from the wall framing. Remember that your house is supported by your foundation walls, not the slab, if you build a wall using this method and your (lightly loaded) basement slab heaves, it can cause serious structural damage to your entire home! As a native to Denver and a structural engineer, I have seen firsthand the destructive power of expansive soils! Play it safe and get a permit!

    Great tips otherwise! Hammer on.

  31. Steve says

    I live in an area with clay soil. I soil is prone to heaving how do I construct a walls in the basement that will float with the heaving affect?

    • says

      Hi Steve - You'll need to build a what's called a floating wall. It's basically a technique for framing that allows the the wall to heavy up and down with the soil. Unfortunately I don't have an article or video for you on floating walls. The regular wall framing video would get you 80% there but you'd need to supplement with a few floating walls instructions from YouTube or other source. - Jason

  32. Derek says

    Jason, any comment or link to another thread on walls where there is ductwork and no place to attach to the joist? Can you just block to the vertical concrete wall or is a soffit acceptable? Thanks!

    • says

      Hi Derek - In most cases the pipes or ductwork is close enough to the wall that people just build a soffit around it and then frame the wall underneath. In some cases the obstruction sticks out quite a bit or sits down quite low to the point where it's best to just frame the wall in front of it. You lose some square footage but sometimes it's the only option. It would be nice if builders would stop taking shortcuts and learn to embed the mechanicals into the joist bays! - Jason

  33. Cedric says

    When framing in a basement, it is perfectly fine to build a wall on the ground and you will not have to shim the wall. The reason for this? A floating wall, due to settling/movement of the foundation slab. So for a basement, build your wall before putting it into place. You will end up gluing and nailing a 2x4 on the concrete that will help hold your floating wall in place. You will want about a 2-3" gap between the bottom of your floating wall and the top of the 2x4 on the concrete slab. Then, you drill holes every 32" through the bottom plate of your floating wall and hammer 1/2" x 5" long nails through these holes into the 2x4 on the slab. Now you have a floating wall!

    • says

      Hey Cedric, and people reading Cedric comment - I've never built a floating wall so I can't comment on whether this is right or wrong. I do know you can also build a floating wall in place (which I recommend) but that's not to say you can't do it on the floor then lift into place. Both are legit methods. Good luck floating wall guys - sorry I don't have more on that. - Jason

  34. says

    I contractor i build walls on the floor constantly. It is much faster. I double plate my top while its on the floor and then stand it up. I cut the studs tight and then pitput the top where I want it and use a 2lb sledge to knock the bottom in place. If the wall is a little tight, I hit a scrap piece of 2x4 with the sledge so I dont damage bottom plate.......takes me about 15-30 mrinites to build a wall by myself. By cutting them tight, you can stand wall up and wedge it well enough to then knock it around and fine tune it.

    • says

      I suppose we agree to disagree then! Perfectly fine. Remember though, most of the readers here are NOT contractors. We don't build walls every day. For us... I recommend building in place, it's faster and easier. - Jason

  35. Nancy Vap says

    I just went to get clamps and a plumb bob. . . I have always built walls that are assembled and then put in place. This will be a new adventure for me but I am determined to get walls framed in my basement before the upstairs perimeter walls arrive from the manufacturer. I even took it a step further and have ordered a gallon of clear coat concrete sealer to paint on the concrete floor before I lay the 2x4 on the floor. With any luck, I will be a seasoned wall builder by the end of July 2016! We are building a house ourselves, with help in areas we just can't do it from contractors, but a lot of the stuff we are doing ourselves! Wish me luck. If you want to see what is going on, send me a friend request and I will add you to my private house building facebook page! Lots of neat things to make this house so energy efficient.

  36. Vern says

    Just started on my basement this summer, only been doing a small amount at a time as time allows. I have been looking at ways to do this and save a few bucks in the process. So far I have done it both ways, on the floor and piece by piece, if you have space and help both ways work. I did a short wall on the floor by myself, didn't like it cause it twist at first and somewhat a hassle so, I opted for stick mwthod. As I move forward I'll continue to do the stick or build in place , if you prefer.

  37. Steve says

    My basement has 9' ceilings and I couldn't find studs long enough to have a single plate on top. So, with double plates on top, is there a trick to getting the top plate in the right place? A plumb bob just isn't precise - it can move a little, so I prefer to set the bottom plate first and then plumb the wall with my level on the studs as it goes up, but I've been a little off on some and the top plate that I thought was in the right place ends up sticking out a little from the second top plate. Does that make sense? I need to nail the top of the two top plates to the joists above before I nail the other top plate to it.

  38. Anan says

    Hi Jason

    I live in Moco county . I have a half basement which is partially finished . I mean it has concrete walls and cemented floor. It's 550 square feet . It has HVAC and water heater on the corner and I have crawl space too with sump pump. I want to finish the basement with room for Mechanical and home theater and kid play area. I might have to add wall only for the mechanical room and frame to add insulation and drywall around the basement . It's very confusing to me how to proceed and I did call permitting department . And They said I need to submit a plan .Apparently until yesterday night I was really not sure what to do . I did see your website last night. It's really wonderful . Since u live in Loudon what are ur thoughts reg Moco permit. What's your suggestion how to proceed ? I really do not have any idea to add plumbing . But do u suggest that I add Bathroon downstairs? Also I know when we bought they had issue in crawlspace and installed sumppump . But how to find out whether my basement has water issues ? Any of your thoughts and suggestions will help me . I would like to keep the cost down. I did get some estimates which is very expensive .

    • says

      Hi Anan - Well... I would start with my website. Read each article and that will give you a good baseline understanding - then if you think you're ready to tackle the project I would buy my book and video series over here. Not to brag but it's really pretty good. A couple of thousand people have bought it and finished their basements. It's not every single exact step, finishing your basement isn't paint by numbers, but it will get you started and it WILL save you a lot of time and money. Good luck! - Jason

  39. Sandra says

    I built my basement walls stick by stick and it worked great. Word to the wise ask for help when putting up the boards on the top or cut them shorter so they don't slip and give you a head injury for life.

  40. Darwin Witzel says

    you forgot to explain one key procedure and the primary reason that people build walls on the floor and raise them into place. How do you fasten the vertical 2x4's to the top and bottom plates. The old timers did this with "toe nails" which is difficult to do and maintain alignment esp on the top plate. I've done essentially using screws and the pocket hole method. It's pretty slow and not commercially acceptable. What method do you use?

  41. Brandon says

    Hi Jason, great article, thanks for putting it together.

    One question for my own basement project, hopefully I can describe this properly thought text.

    One of my walls has duct work running along it (parallel) the entire way. (and is against a concrete foundation wall) This is preventing me from installing a top plate on the ceiling joists. What is the best way to work around this? All of my other walls have been stick by stick, but due to this issue I'm thinking Build and Lift may be better just for this case. I still have the issue of how to secure it though.

    Thank you!

    • Joe says

      Brandon, I had the same issue in my basement. Definitely build on the floor and lift into place. Leave an inch or two of clearance below the duct in case you ever have to get to it, and so there's no rattling in the walls.

      Also, since your top plate is not secured to anything (except probably at the ends) you'll have to anchor a couple of the studs to the foundation wall. Just get a carbide drill bit and some wall anchors (look like bolts inside a casing that you hammer into the wall) at the store, only a couple $ each. Drill a hole in the wall next to a stud, secure a small piece of 2x4 onto the wall with the wall anchor, then connect that small piece to your wall stud with another piece of 2x4 (like "blocking"). FYI, to drill the hole in the foundation, best to have an impact driver or a "hammer" drill. The normal, battery powered drills may not be powerful enough, and will take a long time.

      Intimidated me at first, but actually pretty easy. Keeps your wall from being wobbly.

  42. Brian says

    Just getting started- like your site. Did you ever put up a video on this? I plan to go with the stick method - but will be my first time using a plumb bob.

  43. John says

    You missed the important first step which to eye ball each stud for the crown or the bulge of the wood and have it face toward you. Mark each stud accordingly or you will have a wavy wall.

  44. Erik says

    Question. In your instructions above, why do you recommend nailing the top plate in first? In my case, I'm laying out everything and snapping lines on the floor for the bottom plates. Maybe I'm missing something because it seems if the top plate is attached not-quite-right then that will effect your layout on the floor too.

    • says

      Hey Erik - Just personally preference. You can also start from the bottom and plumb up. In my experience I did not have a top plate that had to be redone. Or if I did, I used clamps before I nailed everything together, so I could just make a small adjustment. Biggest tip - use really straight studs for your top and bottom plates!

  45. Shawn says

    You never said how to fasten the vertical studs- only one side is exposed, the side that's not facing the basement walll. Do you just fasten each vertical stud with one nail or screw at the top and bottom?

    • Shawn says

      Ok. Saw that this question was already answered. (You can tell I'm a beginner)! Awesome method- the only way to go! Thank you!

    • says

      Hi Lori - I did not use any spacers. It did take a few tries to master it but I would leave a quarter to a half inch of space - the nailing would push the board just about where I wanted it. - jason

  46. Shawn says

    What do you use to hold the plumb bob line at the top while you are marking a center line in the bottom rail?

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