How to build an internal wall (with a door) – Laundry renovation: Part 5

Once the slab was down in the new laundry space it was time to build the final wall, which I built using a standard timber stud frame and plaster sheeting.

Framing a wall
There are a lot of guides online that might go into the framing process in more depth than I will, but it is a pretty straight forward. 
Here is an example wall frame I drew for illustration purposes only.

Standard Frame Design

Structural timber stud used for wall framing usually comes in a few set sizes. The largest size is 90mm x 45mm and can be used for both internal and external walls. You can also get 70mm x 35mm which can be used for non-load bearing walls, and you can also get 90×35 amd 70×45 sizes too. Generally I use 90mm x 45mm unless I am trying to conserve space, as the price difference is negligible and bigger = stronger (and heavier, if that is a concern). 

There are five main parts to a stud frame. Along the bottom of the wall you have a single continuous length of timber called the base plate (or bottom plate), and a single continuous length across the top called the top plate. Both the top and base plates are placed flat, so that they are 90mm deep and 45 mm high.

Studs are single vertical lengths that go between the base plate and the top plate. Studs are spaced about 500mm apart, go smaller if the wall length doesn’t allow for even 500mm spaced studs, and try keep the spacing even where possible. The studs are aligned so that the smaller edge (45mm) is the width, and the 90mm is the depth.

Noggins are horizontal bracing that goes between the studs. They are placed no more than 1300mm high, so if the wall is over 2400mm high then you will need at least two noggins between each set of studs. Looking at the above you can see that I have placed noggins offset from each other which helps spread the load across the wall. I have also made sure to place noggins with a centre point of 1200mm as this means that I will have studs in the right place for adding 1200mm wide plasterboard later. You might decide to add additional noggins at the 1200mm height so that there is a continuous edge for sticking the plaster to. 

Diagonal bracing is important as it tops the frame from “pancaking”, meaning the wall will move from side to side, weakening all of the joins until the whole things just falls apart. This is often not included in internal walls as the walls are not structural, and the plaster sheeting will act as a brace, however I always add diagonal bracing whenever possible.

Frame Construction
Use a drop saw to cut the timber stud to the required lengths. Drawing the frame ahead of time, even by hand, and then cutting all of the lengths at once will save you heaps of time. If you spend some time thinking about it you can cut noggins from the leftover timber after the studs are cut to size, reducing wasted timber (and cost).

To stick the frame together you can use screws and 90 degree joist bracing or you can nail it together which is noisy, but is quick and cheap and more than strong enough. One of the best purchases I have made is a nail gun. In fact I use nail guns so much that I own several. A nail gun makes framing very quick and easy and it is just a matter of lining up the two bits of timber and sticking two nails in each join. The two nails should be spaced evenly apart without getting too close to the edge of the timber. 

Unimac Nail Gun

Nail-gun fun
I have Unimac battery and gas-canister powered nail gun, which is a Paslode brand clone, and takes Paslode nails and canisters, but is about half the price. I have done some serious work with the Unimac and it has performed well, however I have had to get a new battery twice, (but they were pretty inexpensive). The gas-canister does the work, the battery is just for the triggering mechanism.You can buy Unimac LXG 3000 (with 2 batteries) here.

Ryobi Pneumatic Framing Nail Gun

I also have an Ryobi Pneumatic Framing Nail Gun which connects to my air compressor. This isn’t cordless so makes it a bit harder to use on every job, but it doesn’t go flat or run out of gas so is good for bigger jobs. This gun also takes Pasload framing nails and has also been pretty reliable, considering it was cheap!

Ryobi Pneumatic Brad Nail Gun

Nail Gun. This one also plugs into my air compressor, but it uses small “brad” nails and is used for attaching trim and other delicate work. I once bought a pack of “Craftright” clips of brad nails and it was a disaster, I spent most of the time pulling the nail gun apart to remove stray nails which had come off the clip and become stuck in random parts of the gun. Using the Paslode nails, while more expensive has been a much better experience.

You can buy the Ryobi Air frame nail gun, Brad nail gun and stapler in a pack here.

Keeping it straight and level
Depending on where you buy the timber from, it might not be entirety straight. Use a square and level during construction to keep everything as straight as possible and use diagonal bracing to pull any questionable corners together.

The actual frame plan
Here is the actual plan for the wall I need to build. It is wider than the laundry as it will encompass part of the wall from the kitchen and will give the sliding door enough room to slide completely back into the cavity.

The base plate is already in situ as I used it as part of the boxing when putting the slab in place. The noggins on the left aren’t evenly spaced as the laundry bench will be a floating bench so I am going to build the structure inside the wall under the noggin.

Frame in place with door cavity. 

The rest if the frame went in place with nails where you think they would go and making sure to keep things level, even though the existing walls and ceiling may not be very level at all. The base plate is stuck to the slab using dynabolts and the top plate is screwed into beams inside the ceiling.

The door cavity is a kit purchased from Bunnings for about $150, and is large enough so that a full size 820mm wide door can slide inside the cavity. Pictured you can see the steel structure for the floating bench which I will talk about later.

Plastering the wall
Once the frame was up It was time to add the plasterboard (drywall).

Frame wall with plasterboard placement

Plasterboard comes in a variety of sizes, but as I use a trailer to move the sheets I usually just get 1200×2400 and 1200×3600 sizes. The sheets should be installed horizontally on a wall so will be 1200mm high. To cut the plasterboard to size use a straight edge and a Stanley-knife to score (not cut) the paper finish on one side, then you can snap the board easily along the score line. 
Some people will place the board over doors and windows and will score\cut using the timber frame as the straight edge.

I stole this picture.

To install plaster board use plaster glue, which comes in both a tube and a tub. I usually just buy a tub and apply with a spatula. Apply the glue on to the stud directly and liberally. You don’t need to cover all of the stud, but make sure the load is spread evenly across the glue. Once the glue is on the stud lift the plasterboard into place and push onto the stud lightly. Once you are happy with the placement you can add a couple of countersunk screws in key locations to make sure it wont move until the plaster dries. You need to make sure the top of the screw is even with the face of the plaster board. Don’t go too deep as you will just go through the plasterboard and the screw is now useless. Don’t worry if there are small gaps between the sheets. We’ll hide them in the next step.

View from inside the new laundry looking at the sheeting covering the new wall. A single piece of dressed timber has been added to the side of the door which you can use to but the plaster sheet up against.
View from inside showing the floating bench structure. I just used a hand saw to cut out notches for the structure to go into. 
I also stole this picture…

Now it is time to add putty to cover the joins in the plaster. 
using fiberglass mesh tape cover the gaps in the plaster . The tape is self adhesive but not that sticky so you need to flatten it as you apply with it so that it doesn’t wrinkle or move. 

You then need to apply plaster putty over the top of the tape. Putty comes premixed and in powder form (just add water). The premixed putty is easier to work with and doesn’t dry out as quickly, but it is a lot more expensive. I keep a tub of premixed in the shed for quick small jobs, but whenever I have a bigger plaster job I always use the post-mix powdered form.

There are also different types of putty for different levels of finish. “Base coat” is cheaper and is supposed to go down first and in quantity. Once this has dried and been sanded you then apply a coat of “top coat” or “finishing” putty. I normally just start with the finishing coat and if I am careful I don’t need to do additional coats. Finishing putty is much finer and easier to sand back then base coat.

To apply the putty use a plaster joint knife (essentially a paint scraper) that is wider than the tape you are covering (I learnt this the hard way). 
Apply the putty as smoothly as possible over the gap and try to smooth the edges to flat so. The better you apply the putty, the less sanding you need to do later. Try to keep excess putty off the knife and don’t get putty in places that are going to be hard\impossible to get a sander to.


Plasterboard hand sander

Allow the putty to dry and then use a wide hand sander to take the excess off. Keep the hand sander flat and sand evenly. It is tempting to concentrate on specific areas and to use the side or corner of the sander to sand back stubborn lumps, but this will almost certainly result in an uneven divot and you will need to apply another coat of putty. 

I tried using a variety of electric sanders first and the results were always super bad, you can get drywall sanders which have a large sanding pad, but i have never used one so not sure if the result is comparable\better than a hand sander.

Remember to run any services that you need to run before you add plasterboard to both sides!

The wall is now ready to paint. Here are photos of the progress so far:

What do you think of the build so far? do you like these how-to guides?

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