How to Build Additions: Preparing to Frame the Walls

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Techniques for framing walls in an addition are the same as for new construction, except that you must vary the height of new walls from standard 8-foot walls if they need to match non standard house walls.

The most common type of wall for small additions is a 2 by 4 stud wall. In cold climates walls may be 2 by 6 to accommodate more insulation. Your plans will specify which size of stud to use, as well as sizes of headers over windows, doorways, and other openings.

Besides ordering the stud, plate, and header lumber, take the following preparatory steps.

- Get accurate rough opening dimensions for windows and doors from a current manufacturer’s catalog or the units themselves. The rough opening (RO) is the dimension between framing members, and it accounts for door or window, jambs, and approximately 1/2-inch for clearance. Try to have windows and doors on site before starting to frame the walls.

- Arrange extra help for lifting long walls, at least one person for every 10 to 12 feet of 8-foot 2 by 4 wall. Eli Have at least one safe, sturdy step ladder tall enough for nailing cap plates.

Give plenty of thought to the de sired result before you start framing. As soon as the subfloor is finished, snap chalk lines on it for all walls and windows. Spend some time walking around on it and try to imagine how the finished space will feel, how the windows will look, how the doorway will work. Make necessary changes in locations or sizes of doorways, walls, or windows before actual framing be gins. Moving a doorway or window a few inches should not be a problem, but be sure to notify the building department of major changes in plans, such as enlarging the glazing area or raising the ceiling height.

Study your plans carefully to verify dimensions, especially for wall lengths, window heights, and closet locations.

If you will be removing the common wall between the house and new addition, or creating a large opening, determine whether it should be done now or can be postponed until you finish the shell. Do it now if the opening is wider than 6 feet and supports the house roof or second floor.


Typical stud wall: When you are facing front, there should be a stud every 16”, measured from the left side of the building; Soleplate in door opening is cut out when door frame is installed; Centerline of partition wall. Put a stud 1½” on each side of centerline; Cripple studs.

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Updated: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 0:37