Framing basement walls can be easy with some instructions, planing and preparation. Before you start your basement renovations, you should draw up a floor plan and measure the foundation walls and partitions to see how much material (2x4s) you will need. No matter what the floor layout is like. The one thing that never changes with basements is the foundation walls and that is where you start. I like to start with a wall that has a window. In case I need to make some adjustments. Start framing the basement foundation walls first (preferably with a window), measure 6 inches from the wall at one end and 6 inches from the same wall at the measurements. With a helper holding a chalk line on the 6 inch mark and you holding the other end of the chalk line on the other 6 inch mark as tight as possible, lift the chalk line up and snap it to mark a strait line on the basement floor.

(let us call this line “line A”). Put the short side of the framing square flash on the other end of the same wall, make a pencil mark on both marked line 6 inches away from the unmarked wall. Draw a line along the long side of the square and you should end up with a 90 degree corner. Now hold one end of the chalk line precisely on the corner of the last pencil mark and stretch it along the other end of the wall. Make sure to have the chalk line exactly on the pencil line,so that you start out with two square walls. Stretch and snap the line. (let us call this line “B”). When you are framing basement walls, it is very important to have the corners square. TIP: To check the square of a corner, mark 3 feet from the corner end on line “A” and 4 feet from the corner end on line “B”, measure the two marks from “A” to “B” (Line “C” should measure a distance of 5 feet.) If the difference is one sixteenth of an inch or more, you will have to adjust the line to meet the 5 feet point.

Reference: Studs are the upright 2x4s that make up the framing wall. Top and bottom plates are then nailed to the studs It is important to have the basement floor clean and ready before you start building the basement walls. Place top and bottom plates, flat on top of each other next to the chalk line and measure from the ceiling to the top of the plates at a few places. Take a note of the smallest measurement and cut the studs one eight of an inch shorter then this measurement (for an easier fit). This will be the length of your studs. Cut the studs to measure and put them aside. The next step is to take the bottom and top plates, place them on top of one another or side by side (which ever you prefer) and even with each other.

Starting from the right side of the top and bottom plates,use a combination square and mark a line across both plates every 16-3/4″ inches and make an “x” mark on the right hand side of the line ( the “x” mark is where the stud will be nailed ). I personally feel,this is the best way to mark top and bottom plates when framing basement walls. It helps keeping every thing square and even. Next step is to spread the top and bottom plates and place the studs ( the ones that you have already cut out ) length wise between the plates.

It is very important to have the basement walls square and plumb while you are framing basement walls for the finishing Ex:(doors, window casing, baseboard and basement ceiling). Line up the studs with the lines that you just marked on the plates ( the center of the stud should be below the “x” mark ) and nail the plates to the studs.( two or three nails for each end of the studs ). Now the wall is ready to be lined up in place. Do not forget to nail a stud at 3-1/2″ from the end of the framed wall the drywall backing. See resource box for diagram.

Stand the wall up and line it up between the chalk line and the basement foundation wall. You can move it close to the wall as long as it stands plumb all around (I like to leave a minimum of one inch from all the foundation walls ). Use the chalk line as a guide and make sure that both ends of the bottom plate are at the same distance form it. Once the framed wall is up and in place, shim the top plate against the floor joists with cedar shakes you can buy the cedar shakes from your local hardware store.

NOTE: From my experience with framing basement walls, I found that if you make sure that all the framing walls are square and plumb, the finished product will always turn out good. Double check the wall to make sure it is plumb all around and start nailing the bottom plate with three or three and a half inches concrete nails. Using a four foot level, check to make sure the front and side of the studs are plumb and nail the top plate to the floor joists or backing ( depending where the wall is lined up ).

You can repeat the same procedures to frame the rest of the basement foundation walls except where there are windows or doorways which I will cover later on. If the wall ends up running in between the floor joists, cut to fit and nail flash, pieces of 2x4s between the two floor joists every three feet or so. This will serve as backing to nail the wall to. Regards.